THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright, 1896, by
THE CENTURY Co.
THE DtViNNE PREM.
|HE full moon, sailing across the sky
above Staten Island, in serene indiffer
ence to mundane revel, might have per
ceived that the fifth annual ball of the
Hunt Club was nearly at an end. Her
light on the hoar-frost made grass and late foliage
everywhere sparkle with myriad crystals, hid itself in
hollowed wave and umbrageous forest near, and only
gave way before long pencils of warmer, rosier rays,
which shot forth now and then from the open doorway
of a great illuminated building. The brittle earth
crackled beneath the hoofs of champing horses wait
ing outside. Impatient coachmen came and went, flap
ping their arms together to keep warm, like grotesque
birds in livery; finding small comfort in the fitful
bursts of music which came from within, but more
in visits to the rear premises of the G-oldenrod Inn,
whence they issued wiping their mouths with the backs
of their hands.
"There 's to be another supper after the women
goes. I 'm here till mornin', I 'd wager me soul ! "
2 THE METROPOLITANS
grumbled Mr. Pundit's coachman, with a prodigious
"Vy don't you bet somethin' large?" responded
Lady Mellon's man, disdainfully. " That there yawn,
f r i'stauce. I thought you 'd a-swallerred me ! "
" No ; I ain't takin' bitters in mine," chuckled Denis,
restored to good humor by the subtlety of his own
In the new wing of the Goldenrod, the great ball
room resounded to the strains of the Hungarian band
hidden in an alcove, from which protruded two arti
ficial heads of horses apparently feeding.
" Is that what you end-of-the-century moderns call
realism in decoration, Mr. Penrose?" asked, with a
smile, a pleasant-faced old man, directing his neigh
bor's attention to these bronzed effigies.
" I rather fancy, Mr. de Mansur," said the younger,
adjusting his eye-glasses, " that Archie Pundit prides
himself especially on that touch. He generally orders
matters and takes the fatal slide from the artistic
to the ridiculous. Otherwise, those corn-stalks and
sheaves of straw and pumpkins and vines, and the
rest of the weeds, are not half bad as a background
for the men's pink coats and the women's gowns."
"Why are you not in pink yourself!" asked the
elder man, kindly, looking up at his tall, thin compan
ion, whose quite smooth face, with its marked features
and very fair coloring, made him noticeable. " I hear
that you ride very straight to hounds."
" I am not a club member only an invited guest."
" Well, cucullus non facit monachum. I think I 've
heard something of an impromptu leap, was it not ?
THE METROPOLITANS 3
But now I must find my daughter and go. You young
fellows may sit up the rest of the night at your late
supper, but I want a few hours' sleep before going back
to the city."
He went off with a roll in his walk suggestive of in
creased avoirdupois. Stephen Penrose, who remained
behind, looked as expressionless as usual ; but he had
noted, with those near-sighted eyes which missed very
little, the withdrawal of Miss de Mansur and her last
partner into a nook among the vines, where they would
not be easily found.
This partner, whose straight, well-knit figure and
clear, dark tints went well with his scarlet coat, was
leaning over Katherine at the moment, and mur
"The quotation is trite, but cannot be improved,
when I say that when you dance with me I wish that
you might ever do nothing but that."
"Oh," smiled the slim girl in pale blue and silver,
still a little breathless from the last measures of " San
tiago/' " what a useful career you would sketch out for
me in this age of enlightenment, progress, and women's
clubs ! Even papa, who would not have me a judge,
say, or a railroad official, approves of fresh-air societies,
hospital missions, and needlework guilds, not to speak
of art clubs and Browning societies. Life was a much
simpler matter in Perdita's time, you know. Her prin
cipal occupation seemed to be picking flowers and pay
ing compliments ; but now, in this year of grace, I shall
feel that to-night's pleasure calls for some bit of un
comfortable, disagreeable work, by way of equalizing
things with my conscience."
4 THE METROPOLITANS
" Then the sooner you acquire a conscience like hers
the better, I should think," ventured this bold youth.
" A woman and a flower, now, what can they do more
useful than just to bloom ? And all pretty blossoms
should live in sunshine."
" Oh, what an enervating doctrine ! And what
would become of those without sunlight unless helped
to some by the more fortunate ? In the mean time "
(with a touch of self-accusing humility according
well with her gracious maidenhood), "I am afraid
these untimely misgivings are only the dash of bitter
I wilfully add to make my cup more piquant. I would
not appear better than I am." The upward glance of
the great clear eyes, which accompanied a little confi
dential sigh, gave his heart a quick throb.
" Than you are ? O Katherine ! "
The musicians had left the room ; there was a soft
flutter and hum of many people passing into the hall ;
the spicy smell of the evergreens was around them.
Her sudden color at his calling her by her first name
might have been of good or ill omen ; but just here a
stately woman in black and gold parted the vines of
their alcove, and stood before them.
" Pardon the interruption, my dear Miss de Mansur,
but Lord Mellon has just let me know the hour, and
I think the women are going. Allan, I want a word
with you before leaving, if you can see me to the
Katherine was already herself. " Indeed, I should
find papa, then," she said ; " and, Lady Mellon, if you
sail to-morrow, I will bid you good-by now, and wish
you a safe and pleasant voyage." She had it in her
THE METROPOLITANS 6
mind confusedly to add something of regret that
American society should lose Lady Mellon to the gain
of Europe, but ceased with relief on her father's ap
proach ; for, indeed, Lady Mellon was haughtily cold,
and the girl hated small social hypocrisies. In the
hallway, Mr. Archibald Pundit, monocle and all, stood,
as chairman of the committee, speeding the fair de
parting guests and receiving their compliments.
" Ah, yes, thank you ! I think myself, don't you
know, that the decorations were fair. Intended to
represent a barn, don't you see. Cornelius, if you
will absent yourself from the little stag supper with
which we propose to finish the night, I suppose we
must forgive you, for the sake of your fair daughter,
one of our stars. Ahem ! ah, thank you ! I hope it
was a success, and that you were not bored, don't you
know. No, Van Krippen ; I am not alluding to you,
though I am aware you tried to dance with Miss de
Mansur six times. Ah! good night, Lady Mellon; I
shall have the honor of wishing you bon voyage on the
deck of the Astoria. Have an indulgent thought for
our little reunions on this side when you are treading
the historic halls of the old country. "We cannot help,
don't you see, getting things a little mixed over here.
Though" (lowering his voice a fraction), "if I had my
way, my dear madam, you would n't have to meet
printers and such fellows, don't you know, at a hunt
"If you mean Stephen Penrose," here interposed
Allan Rexf ord, on whose arm his mother leaned, " you
are mistaken, Mr. Pundit. He is a very clever journal
istassistant editor on the daily ' Argus.' "
6 THE METROPOLITANS
" You may be right ; it 's quite the same thing, don't
you know. When I was young, you did n't meet trades
people or any of these fellows anywhere. Why, Lady
Mellon " (in a tragic whisper), " I believe that man had
on a ready-made tie at the meet yesterday a thing,
don't you know, that stamps a fellow at once, you
Lady Mellon had just time to say to her son, before
reaching the carriage, " Come to me at the Battenberg,
Allan, a little while before we leave. I w r ant to speak
" I would be there in any case, my dear mother," he
answered heartily. " I must have a farewell romp with
the boy." Her carnage made way for the De Mansurs',
and he had the miraculous good fortune of handing
Katherine into hers ; and the further luck of reverently
detaching a young goddess's lace furbelow from an im
pertinent hinge. If the sibyl ever raised her white lids
to give a votary a swift glance and say, " We shall soon
see you in town, of course," no doubt her client inter
preted the remark as absolutely favorable to his wishes.
Be that as it may, this young man sped gaily through
the vestibule again, and up the broad staircase three
steps at a time. So radiant was his aspect, indeed, that
Penrose hailed him from the group of men gathered
outside the supper-room.
" Where has our young Apollo been, that his eyes
are as stars and he treads on air ? Pursuing a nymph
through Staten Island woods ? or merely sampling the
Goldenrod brand of nectar, otherwise Pommery Sec. ? "
" He has n't had a chance at anything half so good,"
grumbled little Morty van Krippen, puffing at a cigar
THE METROPOLITANS 7
much too big for him. " That was beastly stuff at the
"Then Mr. Pundit showed some sense in that, at
least," observed Penrose. "It would be throwing
pearls before angels, who never wear them, to give
good wine to women. The dear things, when they 're
talking, don't know what they 're drinking or saying,
" Oh, come, Penrose," objected Rexf ord, to whom in
his present mood this was profane, "were you born
cynical, or have you simply acliieved it ? "
"I have had it thrust upon me, my dear fellow.
Before I lived this time, I was Timon of Athens ; and
before that Samson, I think. There go the last of the
women " (leaning over the balustrade). " Watch old
Archie bowing them out ! "
" For Sir Jacob thought he bowed like a Guelf,
And therefore he bowed to imp and elf,
And would have made a bow to himself
Had such a bow been feasible,"
murmured Rexford; but he had the grace to blush
when Mr. Pundit, coming up unperceived, laid a sudden
hand on his shoulder.
"My dear boy, when your honored mother leaves,
you must let me take an interest in you; as your
lamented father's friend, don't you know. Your ma
jority comes to-morrow, I think I have heard. You
must let me drink your health presently, don't you see."
" I must drink that too," said Penrose, as they fol
lowed the old gentleman in. "You 're coming into
your kingdom ! " This man, reputed very cold, gave
8 THE METROPOLITANS
a look of great kindliness to fortune's favorite, young,
handsome, and soon to be very wealthy, whom he
generously admired as frank, honest, and still un
The supper-room resounded already with the buzz
of talk among the men, divided into little knots. Foot
men, in the club livery, moved swiftly hither and
thither. With a surcease of the women's voices and
tinkling ripple of laughter, had come a louder, noisier
note in the merriment, and a franker abandonment to
the pleasures of the table. The talk drifted mainly
now on two subjects : the incidents of yesterday's
hunt, and some very choice vintages, brought forth by
Mr. Pundit's orders.
" This Madeira," he was saying, " is from the South.
Picked up there by one of the Barings, you understand.
It had been around the Cape two or three times ; but
something went wrong in the way he treated it, and it
turned out badly, you see. I heard of it, and made a
special trip to England, and he was very glad, you com
prehend, to have me take it off his hands. Nursed it
back to health myself, and I think you will say, my
dear sir, you have n't tasted anything much finer. I
must justify the implicit confidence the club places in
my judgment, don't you know " (his monocle gleamed
sagaciously) ; " and you '11 find the Brut Imperial, '63,
they serve with the next course, fit for the gods. Yes,
Lord Mellon " (to the bald, languid, elderly little man
at his right) ; " yesterday's course was a hard one, but
so much the better. Our cross-country riders will im
prove with such runs. I wish they might have, as I
did, a season or two over in your country with the
THE METROPOLITANS 9
Royal Hunt. But even then it 's my unalterable con
viction, don't you know, that their style will never
"An unalterable conviction," commented Penrose,
in an undertone, "proclaims, according to Sydney
Smith, an unalterable ass."
" Then don't contradict him," said Rexford, in the
same key ; " for you know the proverb, ' It is a waste
of lather to shave an ass.' "
" I wonder," sputtered little Van Krippen, with his
mouth full, "if it was his practice with the buck
hounds made him come a cropper over that post and
rail yesterday. And oh, by Jove ! Mr. Penrose, I don't
know when I 've laughed as I did when he slipped off
at the water jump, and you vaulted on his mare and
cleared the brook in such style, and rode her to the
" He is an elderly man, and I did n't come down to
ride, and should n't have done it ; but I was standing
close by when he declined the jump, and I rushed at the
gallant little mare's bridle before I thought. I have
apologized since, of course," said Penrose, quietly.
" I don't believe he '11 forgive you," laughed Rexford ;
" but it was good riding, old fellow, and a good joke ! "
An echo of his joyous laugh reached the chairman,
who raised his glass to him and Van Krippen, pointedly
ignoring Penrose. International riding was still the
theme at the head of the table, and from out the con
fusion of tongues Lord Mellon's indifferent drawl could
be distinguished :
" I Ve heard my father say he saw the jump himself,
in the White Hart at Aylesbury, at a steward's dinner.
10 THE METROPOLITANS
Over table and all and back again. A nasty risk to take
even if a horse will come up-stairs."
" I believe I could bring my roan up now, and make
him jump this one," declared Allan Rexford, impetu
ously. It may have been the Brut Imperial or mere
joy in living that made the youth so ready this even
ing to drink up Esil, eat a crocodile, or perform any
such trifling task.
" Don't be rash, lad," said Peurose.
" Why not try it, then ? " murmured Lord Mellon,
with half-shut eyes. " I would back you to any amount."
Some further animated discussion, and then several of
the men accompanied Rexford down to the stable. In
a short while their voices and a heavy lumbering noise
on the stairs preceded Rexford's return, bringing by
the halter his spirited little roan. He led it around the
wide room, resting before the great log fire blazing in
the huge fireplace. " The jump ! the jump ! " called
many voices. The scarlet-coated lookers-on hastily
grouped themselves against the walls here and there,
odds being given and taken. The chairs were removed
from the table, otherwise left untouched, with fruit and
flowers, glasses, decanters, and candelabra, and many
wax-lights burning. " My father said it was so on the
occasion he spoke of," suggested Lord Mellon, listlessly.
Then Rexford, his eyes sparkling and cheeks flushing
with the novelty of the enterprise, sprang on the bare
backed roan, struck him with his heel, and sent him
over table and appointments, just clearing them ; but
the animal's hoof catching in the edge of the cloth,
pulled it off and broke a few glasses. Upon which,
without hesitating, he turned, and, with a cry and blow
THE METROPOLITANS 11
on the neck from his right palm, sent him over again
in perfect style. There was a storm of applause and
congratulations as he dismounted. Archie Pundit
ceased strolling excitedly about, to shake his hand
and exclaim jerkily, " My dear young friend, my heart
was in my mouth, to use a vulgar phrase, until you
were over, don't you know. I was telling Lord Mellon
that I disapproved highly disapproved, I may say of
your valuable neck being so endangered : a man who
comes to-morrow, don't you know, into such a fortune
as yours. Some of these penniless nobodies, now."
His glance rested, accidentally perhaps, on Penrose.
" How are you going to get him down again ? " the
latter asked Rexford. " That '11 be the real difficulty,
as I suppose you don't mean to emulate General
The roan did, in fact, object to the descent. He
went quietly enough along the narrow strip of carpet
laid on the polished oak hall floor, but not one step
downward could he be induced to take. After repeated
efforts had failed, Penrose suggested their leading him
to the extreme end of the hall, blindfolding him, then
bringing him steadily along without stopping even an
instant at the head of the staircase. By this means he
took the first steps of the descent without knowing, and,
though he stumbled and fell on his knees, scrambled
on somehow. Penrose and Rexford, holding him
tightly by the head, encouraged and got him down,
with no damage except to the balusters.
" Who's that thin-legged, cold-blooded, sleepy-look
ing chap ? " asked one man of another, as they went out
into the nipping air of morning. " Sat next Pundit
12 THE METROPOLITANS
at the head of the table, and put Rexford up to the
" That 's his loving stepfather, Lord Mellon," said
The gentleman in question, just then burying his
nose in the fur collar of his overcoat, confided to its
depths the murmured remark, "Seems a pity, 'pon
honor, that young idiot did n't break his neck. It
would have saved his mother a deuced unpleasant
half-hour or so before we sail."
the quiet region bordering on Second
Avenue in New York, overlooking Stuy-
vesant Square, and under the shadow of
St. George's steeple, there are some fine
and stately old houses family mansions,
whose occupants, having dwelt there for several gen
erations, obstinately resist the tide of change and fash
ion sweeping their neighbors up-town.
" If you really wished it, Katherine dear, we might
buy another without its quite ruining us," Cornelius
de Mansur would say of one of these houses. " But
you see, my father and grandfather were born and died
here ; and I should like to die here myself, if you don't
mind, my dear."
" But I do mind, you dreadful papa ! " the girl would
cry, rumpling his gray hair with her pretty hands.
" You have my gracious permission to stay here only
on condition that you never die, but just soar upward
after a hundred years or so ! "
" I will need strong pinions to accomplish that if I
keep on getting stouter," he chuckled contentedly, set
tling down again to his books and papers.
In truth, she was as fond as he of this old library, with
its deep bow- windows, from which one saw the trees and
14 THE METROPOLITANS
walks of the square, alive with twittering, hopping spar
rows. His great writing-table of black oak stood here,
with silver inkstand and fittings ; and around two sides
of the room ran bookcases, filled to overflowing with
works of all dates and editions, Mr. de Mansur's great
treasure. Most of the heavy old furniture was of the
black oak; a few pieces being covered with faded
tapestry, worked by his mother and her mother. The
walls in crimson tones were hung with a portrait or
two, and a fine collection of old colored prints in nar
row, unobtrusive frames, among them a few good
examples of the lost art of colored stippling in its
perfection. And in front of the open fireplace stood a
quaint couch with square adjustable ends, Katherine's
favorite resting-place. Here she could dream, with her
head among the countless pillows, and her feet resting
on a tiger's head, whose skin had come all the way from
Africa as a present from Mr. de Mansur's nephew, an
" Reginald never said he shot that tiger," Cornelius
would remark, "but he 's just the fellow to shoot a
tiger if he could n't get out of its way, and the tiger
did n't have first innings. Now that sounds like a pun,
which is unworthy of an honest man, eh, Katherine ?
Well, never mind ; it was accidental. Did I tell you
that Reginald was very proud of a new idea of his for
impressing the ignorant savage with the white man's
superiority ? He has taken with him an immense num
ber of kid gloves, of which he always wears a pair in
any interview with native chiefs. Then, somewhere
in the talk, he draws them slowly off, to the awed
amazement of the crude African, who naturally con-
THE METROPOLITANS 15
eludes that it is the skin of his hands which he can
peel off at any time with impunity ! He would like to
have a patent on the idea, I fancy ; but I wrote him I
did n't think it so good as my poor friend, Sir Charles
Dormer's. He had a glass eye in latter years (I was
traveling with him on the Continent when he lost his
own), and while he was parleying with Arab chiefs in
Egypt, he used coolly to pluck out his eye, twirl it in
the air, and put it back ; which had, they told me, a very
inspiring effect. I might compliment Reginald more ;
but he 7 s a youth, as your Mortimer van Krippen would
say, who is the better for being sat upon a little. Not
your Van Krippen ? No, my love ; I was jesting, of
course. I know my Katherine better. We are not
such worshipers of the golden calf, either of us, as to
offer him such a sacrifice as that ! You need not go ;
you are not in my way at all if you '11 just keep quiet
and not talk so much ! "
Katherine smiled ; she had spoken just once. She
stayed, knowing that the waves of her bright hair
showing over the sofa were a delight to her father in
the intervals of his scholarly researches ; but not know
ing that sometimes, as now, the sight was a useful de
terrent from some extravagance. He tore up slowly
and dropped in the waste-basket a letter just finished,
ordering a very costly work newly brought out by his
club of clubs, the Grolier. " My Katherine will have
such a modest fortune when I go," he thought, " that
I am a selfish wretch to spend so much on these
things." He frowned at an imaginary greedy, un
scrupulous, bibliophile self, in whom others would not
have recognized the one parent, guardian, teacher, in-
16 THE METROPOLITANS
timate companion Katherine had known since her
mother's early death. The scratching of his pen now,
the crackling of the burning logs, the rustling leaves
of Katherine's book, alone disturbed the silence for a
while. Then, " What has my lassie there ? " he asked.
" You will smile when I say ' Henry Esmond ' again.
It ought to be, perhaps, some modern story, dealing
with a question of the day, or something realistic, or
something with a stern and resolute purpose. But
when the great masters hold the mirror up to nature,
the picture is so much more vivid and picturesque."
"Athanasius against the world! A maiden free
lance against the professional critics ! " said her father,
with a twinkle in his eye. " You should read for im
provement. And would you really place ' Vanity Fair '
or ' Pride and Prejudice ' before works of the apostles
of realism ? "
" I would n't place them at all, but just enjoy them,
and let the others alone. You don't know that charm
ing essayist, papa, but you must know her, who ob
jects to having an instructive work thrust on her as
though it were 'paregoric or a porous plaster,' and
thanks Heaven that, 'whatever the eccentricities of
fiction writers to come, they cannot take from us the
" Fiction as a vehicle for preaching is bad art, I am
sure," said he ; "but" (persisting) "realism, now; I
thought Ibsen and some of that school were rather a
fad among the younger people."
" Perhaps ; among those that would sup on cucum
bers and beer to get a nightmare, or visit dissecting-
rooms for pleasure ! Useful and necessary statistics,
THE METROPOLITANS 17
now essays on social and" But any deeper plunge
into the ethics of the question was prevented by a
footman's entrance, announcing, " Miss Lavender and
Miss van Krippen."
" We ventured to follow the man, Katherine," said
a thin, sweetly childish voice from under the portiere,
11 though we know this is your papa's sanctum. But
it is so delightfully quaint ! "
The speaker was a girl, small and plump ; pink and
white as to skin, very blond and fluffy as to hair;
daintily picturesque as a Greuze shepherdess. She
was still under twenty, but, armed with rare native
self-possession, and a lorgnette which she did not
need, would have confronted all the monarchs of Eu
rope, including the Emperor William, with the same
smiling confidence with which she bearded Cornelius
de Mansur in his lair. She preceded a woman many
years older and much thinner, with very black eyes
and hair, in dress a modified and fairly acceptable
" I beg you to believe, Mr. de Mansur," said the lat
ter, with some asperity, " that when Miss van Krippen
says ' we/ she means herself only. I hope before she
leaves me she will allow no impulse to hurry her into
"You are ahem! very welcome, Miss Lavender,"
said Cornelius. " Take this arm-chair. I can recom
mend it for comfort. Our ahem! intimates fre
quently drop in here, though it is called my study."
Miss Lavender sat quite erect' on the edge of her
chair, her bony, neatly gloved hands folded over a
18 THE METROPOLITANS
" Our dear Miss Lavender," said Angelica van Krip-
pen, smiling sweetly, "has been a little ruffled this
morning, which, under the circumstances, was quite
natural. Katherine and Mr. de Mansur would sym
pathize, I am sure, Miss Lavender."
"Miss van Krippen alludes to a meeting of the
Provincial Matrons which I have been attending, and
in which, I am ashamed to say, there was much un
seemly excitement displayed. With your lineage, Miss
de Mansur" (parenthetically), "I am surprised that you
are not a member." Katherine checked a smile at her
father's expression of countenance. "You have but
little leisure? Ah, well, perhaps it might be better
for you to wait now and see the outcome of this this
"A very pretty quarrel as it stands," murmured
Angelica, who was peering at the engravings through
"I thought from the beginning," pursued Miss
Lavender, " that there was a lack of shall I say par
liamentary courtesy? in their methods of electing
officers. Those in office would just retire for a while,
and then come out and report that they had reflected
themselves. But the real trouble began after the elec
tion of a new member at the last meeting. They find
now that she is not directly descended from the patroon
whom she claims as ancestor. We wanted her to go
out again peaceably and quietly, and she would n't,
which was not ladylike, to say the least, Mr. de Man
sur, and actually had her lawyers take it up and say
that as the society was an incorporated one, being once
in she had the right to stay in. I did n't care so much
THE METROPOLITANS 19
about that " (with an impartial air), " though it caused
scandal, as the vice-president was responsible, and has
acted in what I must consider bad taste all along
keeping her own two sisters out on some pretext, and
telling Mrs. Crowne Derby that the Derby ancestor,
coining from Virginia, which was a penal colony,
could not be considered ! Then the Royall Worces-
ters; she detained them here a whole winter from
their Egyptian trip, hunting up positive evidence of
their descent from Dietrich Knickerbocker, which every
one admitted. But " (and here the card-case began to
tremble) " it was my own personal difficulty with her
which has agitated me somewhat. As you know, Mr.
de Mansur, I am a Philadelphian, and, during my hon
ored and wealthy papa's lifetime, little expected ever
to be in charge of a young ladies' finishing academy.
However, it is a noble mission. But when that Doul-
ton-Minton person presumes to tell me that my revered
ancestor, Benjamin Franklin, was too light and gay to
be considered as a proper and respectable founder of
a family, I confess that only an unswerving habit of
decorum restrained me ! " She paused to smooth out
an unbecoming frown.
" Heavens and earth ! " cried Cornelius, with simu
lated heat, to cover an inappropriate twinkle behind his
glasses. " My dear Miss Lavender, Benjamin Franklin
too gay or frisky ! I should have thought him in all
respects a first-class ancestor. It must be a case of
pure envy in Mrs. Doulton-Minton."
"Katherine," Miss van Krippen softly interjected
here, " you promised to show me that new water-color
in the music-room. Excuse us for a few moments."
20 THE METROPOLITANS
She drew Katherine away at once. " And now," slie ex
claimed triumphantly outside, her arm in her friend's,
' the next time she objects to my going anywhere with
out a chaperon at fifty cents an hour, I will say, * Why,
you did not mind my leaving you alone with Mr. de
Mansur.' That will break her all up. Imagine ! she
wanted me to apply for admission inio those Provin
cial Matrons ! "
" And why did you not ? "
" Katheriue ! you know very well. I might not be
such a fool in any case j but in this case, my name 's
McGregor, my foot is on my native heath, and I pro
pose to keep it there."
"You did not tell her that?"
" Not exactly. I told her simply that the Van Krip-
pens were so very exclusive that they hesitated to join
any association for any purpose whatever; and that
I had not noticed in the Matrons that repose which
stamps the caste of Vere de Vere. My dear, their
personalities to each other this afternoon would have
made a wooden Indian blush ! And if that was their
opinion of Benjamin Franklin, I wonder what they
would think of John Cripps, who kept a little store in
a mining-camp out in Colorado some years ago, and
made a fortune which they do sincerely admire."
"If they thought as I do"
"Oh, you, Katherine ! " (with an impulsive embrace).
" "When they left me here to be finished at Miss Lav
ender's, and then launched in society, I do believe I
should have died of nothing but hardness and world-
liness all around me if it had n't been for that lucky
visit to the blind woman's place, where I met my
THE METROPOLITANS 21
Katherine ; so the little bit of charity she lets me do
with a chaperon had more than its reward. But
cheerily, ho, my lads ! Let 's not be sentimental. I
had a letter from mamma yesterday. She writes, in
French, that Anastelle is getting on nicely at school
there, and will soon forget all her English, she hopes.
Papa, too, is getting over what she calls idioms, and
she makes him read French novels day and night. He
writes that he hates everything and everybody there,
and wishes he was back in Colorado. He loves work?
and never read a bit of fiction before in his life, ex
cept ' The Children of the Abbey ' when he was a boy.
That 's how my brother came to be called Mortimer,
and I Amanda. Mamma added Angelica, and I insisted
on being called that w r hen I was older. Mamma com
posed the name of Anastelle herself Anastelle
Mauveleen is the whole name. And it was her idea
to change Cripps into Van Krippen when we moved
East. She thought it was more harmonious with
the New York atmosphere ! "
She broke off her clear-toned, monotonous ripple
of talk at this, to join heartily in Katherine's merry
laughter. "Miss de Mansur," she resumed, "I feel
guilty at being tempted into such reckless revelations.
It is only with you, and in confidence, believe me.
Will you kindly show me the new aquarelle ? " Her
manner now was in patent imitation of the respected
Miss Lavender's. She added, in an absurdly stilted
tone, " Ah ! that is a truly delicious bit of color, prov
ing an artistic feeling which is as rare as it is admi
rable in so young an artist. It adds to the charm of
an already charming room."
22 THE METROPOLITANS
In point of fact, the room teas charming. Its cream
and gold tints were relieved by water-colors, most of
them Katherine's own work; and an old Sheraton
cabinet, with a few fine bits of ceramics and Venetian
glass, filled a corner opposite to that where the piano
stood. The man came in now with a basket of or
chids, a card attached with Mr. van Krippen's name.
" How kind your brother is ! " said Katherine.
Her friend looked at her earnestly more earnestly
than was her wont and answered quietly, "Yes;
Morty is not always brilliant, bnt he is always kind,
and the best-hearted fellow."
The man interrupted again, bearing just a knot of
fragrant violets and a card, on which was penciled,
without a name:
Bat sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,
The sender was some one who knew the girl's taste
in flowers and verse.
" Mortimer was telling me," Angelica went on, " of
some feat of your friend, Mr. Rexf ord's, at the late
supper of the Hunt Club. You heard, perhaps?
Some sort of Pegasus performance flying his horse
over the table. Mortimer was so eloquent about the
daring of it, and about the club wine, that somehow
I " (with malice) " have mixed the two matters up."
' It was daring in the horse, at least, who had had
no wine," said Katherine, carelessly.
" By the way, Morty tells me that Mr. Rexford is
very musical composes."
" ( Fanatico per la musica,' as Italians call it Here
THE METEOPOLITANS 23
is a song of which, he has just set the words to music.
You might like it."
" Your words ? or his own, perhaps ? "
" Neither ; only some I chanced to fancy in a maga
zine. It is called ' Retribution/ by Stanton, I think."
Her voice was a mezzo-soprano of limited compass, but
sweetness which gave effect to the minor strain.
" Once, when I was poor,
Love knocked at my door.
'Some sad wretch/ I said, 'who begs,
And my cup drained to the dregs.'
So I cursed him from the light,
Out into the homeless night."
Some one here entered, preventing James from an
nouncing him, and stood beside Angelica, who nodded
silently. Katheriue sang again :
" Once, with golden store,
I knocked at Love's sweet door.
'Some sad wretch,' he cried, 'whose gold
Would my loving breast enfold ! '
So he cursed me from the light,
Out into the homeless night."
" Out into the homeless night the homeless night
the homeless night ! " chimed in vibrant male tones
with the plaintive refrain.
" Ah ! " cried Angelica, " that is lovely. I am ready
to weep ! Not at the sentiment, Mr. Rexford ; I am
impervious to that ; it is the music thrills me."
" Thank you, Miss van Krippen ; but an emotional
crisis brought on by art should not be expressed in
tears. It should take the form of cold chills running
up and down the spine. Remember that, please,
24 THE METROPOLITANS
when you listen to the great Wagner of whom a
humorist remarks that his music is not so bad as it
Katherine, who had started a little at the unexpected
voice, had gone on playing the melody in soft chords.
" I must thank you" she began now.
"You must rather forgive me for venturing in
when I have to leave so hurriedly. My mother sails
this afternoon, and I am due at her rooms now, but
could not resist coming in for a moment to ask your
good wishes. It is my birthday ; and I have a sort of
superstition about having my friends' good wishes."
Angelica van Krippen had a shrewd suspicion that
the friends whose good wishes were a superstition
with this young man were limited to one; but the
Dresden-china maiden thought of Morty, and did not
move away. " If, as I have heard, your majority was
fixed for this, your twenty-fifth birthday," she said,
" there is little left for your friends to wish you, Mr.
Rexford. With youth, health, and a competence, be
sides a very pretty talent for music, Prince Fortunatus
might be satisfied."
"And yet I am not," he said ardently, with spar
kling eyes, "but seem to crave what is it I do want?
Oh, yes, just a flower or two." He fixed an appealing
glance on Katherine, who faintly colored, selecting a
few violets. He must have taken them awkwardly,
for they fell on the polished floor, and down he went
on his knees, which necessitated turning his back to
Miss van Krippen, and permitted him, seen only of
Katherine, to press the flowers to his lips before fast
ening them in his buttonhole. And he was gone, and
THE METROPOLITANS 25
a minute later bowling away from the front door in
his trimly appointed dog-cart.
"I hear my revered preceptress's voice in the hall
now," declared Angelica. " She will have talked your
father limp by this time. Let us go to his rescue ! "
Miss Lavender was, indeed, awaiting her pupil with
a look of lofty displeasure, and she would not hear of
waiting until tea was brought in. " The drive to the
Park is a long one, as Miss van Krippen is aware,"
said she, stiffly, "and we shall hardly have time to
dress for dinner."
As she followed in her wake to the waiting coupe,
Angelica, in allusion to the lady principal's glacial
kiss, said demurely, " I hope, Katherine dear, you will
not have bronchitis. You had better see now to your
poor dear papa."
11 ' Poor dear papa/ in truth," Katherine said, half
laughing; "you do look as though you needed a re
storative. Sit down in your own chair again, and I
will bring you your tea ; and you shall drink it while
I sit here at your knee."
" It was an ordeal, Katherine," he presently admitted
in an exhausted tone, between sips. " I did not know
there was a woman alive who could, in my own library,
make me listen to anecdotes of Franklin in his boy
hood ! But how you look, my beauty ! Such shining
eyes, and so bright and sweet, and smelling of violets.
Does the saucy Angelica's talk give all that radiance f "
" Oh ! we had other callers and music, you know,"
said Katherine, hiding pink cheeks against his knee.
" But what an imaginative old gentleman ! And what
a fairy princess you would make of me ! "
[HEN the dog-cart pulled up before the
Battenberg, where Lord and Lady Mel
lon had temporary lodging, his mother
had been expecting Rexford for some
time. For so self-controlled a woman,
there was much restlessness in the way she moved
about the garishly appointed hotel room, strewn with
evidences of approaching departure ; and there was a
slight flush on the smooth cheek she offered for his
kiss. " You may go now, Stephanie. And, Warren,
that will do for the present. Send Roberts here with
The door opened in a few moments, and admitted
a little fellow of about three, who, toddling in with
an exultant crow, made straight for his tall brother,
about whom he clung until hoisted, with romping and
laughter, to his shoulder.
" You must not make a noise, if I let you stay," said
his mother. And the docile child buried his fat little
hands in Rexford's hair, and subdued his mirth to
small chuckles and infantine whisperings.
" He is growing finely, Allan, rosy and strong."
" I believe you. His heels' tattoo on my chest in
dicates great vigor; he is like his mother," Allan
THE METROPOLITANS 27
laughed, patting the little knee, "and my little Lord
Cantaloupe will grow up to be an ornament to the
She winced slightly, thinking, perhaps, of Lord
" You have failed to visit me, Allan, in these few
years I have spent in England ; so you cannot tell
from observation what a grand old place is Oudenard
Hall, this boy's heritage, if I have brought a picture
with me, a large photograph, for you to see."
He glanced carelessly at a picture of a fine and
stately castle on a hill, which commanded, on one side,
undulating green slopes leading down to a shimmer
ing lake; on the other, forest depths, from which
looked forth a deer or two quietly grazing. The
spire of the village church just showed above the
tree-tops. " It is a beautiful place," he commented
quietly, "and with historic associations. That is, I
suppose, the morning-room on the east, where Charles
the Second supped. I forget how it came to the first
lord ; but that does not matter. Our boy is only con
cerned with the present."
" Yes ; that concerns him vitally " (putting away the
picture). " That is partly why I am here in America
on your twenty-fifth anniversary, Allan. Of course
you know the affection I bear my first-born, and that
my congratulations are yours to-day. My birthday
gift I directed Mr. Redtape to present for me."
He was stooping to roll a ball to the child, and an
swered lightly, " I am quite ashamed ; but my engage
ments at the club and elsewhere with fellows who
would congratulate Prince Fortunatus, as they have
28 THE METEOPOLITANS
chosen to nickname me, made me entirely forget the
appointment with Redtape."
" I am sorry that you forgot, as to-day, you know,
was fixed by your father for your majority, and Mr.
Redtape was to explain to you more precisely the
terms of his will. In a codicil, to be produced to-day,
you would have found his strong expression of entire
trust in my care of you."
He stopped playing, and listened quietly.
" I think your father, Allan, would have found no
fault with the way in which I dispensed his means for
your benefit during your minority. And only when
you were grown did I marry again. I have given you
a brother, who is Lord Cantaloupe at present." Her
look at him, which had imperceptibly faltered, was
again calm and cold and unflinching as ambition's
self. " The Queen may be induced to restore a title
in abeyance, the Marquisate of Gourdes. In any
case, he succeeds to Lord Mellon's titles. But of what
use is empty rank? With heavy mortgages encum
bering the broad acres and parks of Oudenard, his
titles would be a mere burden. As I am left absolute
mistress of the American fortune (you were a mere
child at your father's death), I have decided to free my
younger son's inheritance, and leave the future Lord
Mellon wherewithal to support his high rank." She
paused a moment, then went on rapidly : " If you are
not still Prince Fortunatus by this arrangement, you
will yet have control of a handsome income from my
own property in the city, which I have made over to
you by deed of gift this morning, Allan, and directed
Mr. Redtape to tell you."
THE METROPOLITANS 29
If Rexford had seemed bewildered for a moment
by this most unexpected shock, his bearing was now
as gallant as ever, and he confronted her with a steady
look, as calm, if not as cold, as her own.
" My dear mother," he began, in an almost uncon
cerned tone, " if my father trusted you so absolutely,
it is my pleasure to do the same. What he left is
yours, doubtless, to dispose of as you will. And for
the dear little boy" he stopped suddenly, and laid a
hand on the child's curly head.
Some people came in now to make their farewells ;
Lord Mellon entered, listless as ever ; tea was served ;
and what with these interruptions, the gathering up
of impedimenta, and starting for the steamer, there
was no chance for another word in private between
mother and son.
The lawyer, waiting on the deck for a few more
words of instruction, took the opportunity to hand a
package to Rexford ; in his professional indifference
there may have been a grain of pity. The young man
received the thing mechanically, moved into the cabin,
opened and glanced through it, and penciled a note,
which he inclosed again with the document. After a
while the noise and shouting of getting ready, the
embarking of passengers, the farewells and tears and
last words, all came to an end; and Rexford kissed
the little man in his nurse's arms, and ran down the
gang-plank. And, amid cheering and waving of
handkerchiefs, the great ocean greyhound slipped her
leash, and went speeding out over the waste of waters.
" What a deuced bore, all this fuss ! " said Lord Mel
lon, starting for the smoking-room. But Lady Mel-
30 THE METROPOLITANS
Ion, going into her state-room, found there a package
with broken red seals. It was the deed of gift to her
son, returned with a note.
" MY DEAR MOTHER," she read : " I am glad the dear
little fellow is to profit by my own father's prosperity ;
but that is no reason I should despoil you ; so I return
your kind gift, which I must decline. I own, you know,
a little house cottage what is it? in Orange, which
was my grandmother's, and still have in pocket most
of last month's receipts, so shall do very well. Once
more, a pleasant voyage.
Lady Mellon's face paled a little ; she felt that he
would have no favors when rights were disregarded.
She shivered, drawing her wrap more closely about
her as she went on deck to look at the Statue of Lib
erty and the wooded islands and the Jersey shores;
but Allan's face came between her and the scenery,
and his dark, expressive eyes, so like those of the
husband of her youth, looked at her, she fancied, re
proachfully. Yet she never once thought of altering
her ambitious and unjust intentions.
Her son, meanwhile, made his way through the
throng to where his dog-cart waited. He took the
reins from the groom, who sprang up behind. " I
shall sell the trap, of course," he thought, even as they
went with smooth swiftness toward the Orchid, a club
famous for its chef. What a ready handmaid, what a
serviceable slave, is Habit in the great crises of life !
Even with the golden castle in which prospective
THE METROPOLITANS 31
millionaires abide tumbling about his ears, the noise
and dust of its crashing walls confusing his ideas,
our youth sat down as coolly as ever at his own par
ticular table ; ordered a choice little dinner, of which
he hardly tasted; drank Chablis, and exchanged a
word or two with Morty van Krippen, who came in
with a chrysanthemum almost as large as himself in
his buttonhole. And all the while he felt the hurt of
a sudden wound dealt by the hand which had directed
his childish steps the hand of a woman who, of all
the world, should have refrained. " It seems," he re
flected, " that a husband's boundless confidence in his
widow's motherly love may be abused." He had not
yet learned what an exacting idol Ambition is ; how
she hardens her votaries into laying all sacred emo
tions on her altar. But, indeed, the young fellow
was dazed; and, with this bitter undercurrent of
thought flowing, he heard, unheeding, honest Morti
''Had the impudence, you know," the latter was
saying, " to call me a weak-kneed dude at the Athlet
ic, it was ; and I heard him, and was going for him ;
and just then your newspaper friend, Penrose, spoke
up and said Ms definition of a dude was a man who
was better dressed than you. The fellows laughed,
and that made me forget to hit him. For he swears
those awful plaids of his come from London, you
know. I mean to ask him if he got that cudgel of
his at Donnybrook Fair ; and then perhaps I '11 get a
Mortimer was a famous sparrer for his weight, and
frequently astonished grave and dignified strangers
32 THE METROPOLITANS
on a first introduction by requesting them to "feel
his muscle " inherited, doubtless, from the erstwhile
storekeeper in a Western mining-camp.
" Say, where 're you off to this evening, Rexford ?
Goin' to the opera? 'Lohengrin,' you know Eames
as Elsa. Beastly bore, music; I never listen to a
note ; but there 's the ballet, and people to talk to."
Elderly, prosperous-looking club members, coming
and going, bowed with the same flattering geniality
to the two young men both supposed to be heirs to
fortunes large enough to make the fathers of daugh
ters easily accessible. "Their prophetic souls have
not yet discerned the fading of my golden halo,"
thought Rexford, with his first misgiving. " Morty's
still shimmers about his sandy curls and tip-tilted
nose. Well, he 's a good-hearted little beggar, and
Katherine says oh ! "
Katherine ! how had he not thought of her before
since his mother's announcement ? How did he stand
with her father ? What diif ereuce would this make ?
Even if Cornelius de Mansur would match her peer
less self and substantial, if not extravagant, income to
his what? Five feet eleven, and empty hands-
would self-respect allow? He felt for the moment
savagely jealous of unconscious Mortimer, who was
still in a position, materially, to woo any one. But
he shook this off as unworthy, and said aloud :
"Fate cannot harm me any more to-day; I have
dined. Come on, Morty. I 'm for the opera with
you, and vogue la galbre?
" I 'm willing," said Morty, " whatei-er that means,"
trotting along beside him, with his cane at an angle
THE METROPOLITANS 33
warranted to put out somebody's eye sooner or later.
But once at the opera-house, though he liked to be
seen with Rexford, whom he greatly admired, he
wearied presently of his companion's persistent silence
during the music, and began a round of visiting
through the boxes, where he was received with warmth
by the fair occupants, as a small but golden lion, with
a very superior roar.
" But why did you not bring Prince Fortunatus ? "
asked one not insensible to personal charm.
" Because he would n't come," said Morty, with the
uncompromising candor of the modern gilded youth,
which would have made Sir Philip Sidney shudder.
Rexford, indeed, was in no humor for the unprofit
able nothings loudly chattered in the boxes. He was
almost tempted to join in the occasional hisses at
their noise indulged in by real music-lovers, mostly
foreign, in the body of the house. In his feverishly
excited mood, with the tide of music surging over
him, it seemed as though the great issues of love and
life and death forced themselves even into this gor
geously artificial throng. The pale spiritual lights on
the stage, the mystic meanings, Elstfs sweet, clear
notes, excited in him an irritating sense of the incon-
gruousness of the nearest dowager's fat shoulders,
generously displayed, or the priceless diamonds, whose
sparkling only drew attention to another's spinal
" I did n't see you in the house, Penrose," he said,
brushing against an acquaintance when it was over.
" Did n't get here in time for the opera ; just for
the vaudeville. You are coming? Then let us go
34 THE METROPOLITANS
through this door. It leads to the other part of the
They left overcoats and sticks in the cloak-room ;
but kept their hats, to be presently deposited under
their chairs. The miniature theater of the Vaudeville
Club had a stage about the size of a billiard-table, on
which the champion strong man, in scant attire, was
now performing marvelous feats. Society women
came trooping in ; some in full dress, as they had left
the opera; some, in demi-toilets, from the theater or
"small and early" affairs; some in walking-dress,
with hats on ; all talking gaily, and grouping them
selves about small tables, where the men with them
fell to smoking, and ordering light drinks from the
waiters gliding about. Our two had a little table to
"When Sandow has finished," said Penrose, con
sulting a small program, "there is let me see a
song and dance. Then the Hindu jugglers, the
Leffner family acrobats, a male quartet. I am earlier
than I intended. Our theatrical critic is laid up with
influenza, and I would n't trust the others to write
up what I wanted a new star. Ah, yes ; here she is
on the bill: 'First appearance in America Romany
dancer, Jasmina.' What will you have B. and S. ?
I saw this dancer abroad once or twice, and think you
will like her. Try one of these Perfectos. I brought
them from Cuba myself."
The Hindu jugglers, the Leffner acrobats, the
male singers, might have been performing solely for
their own enjoyment, so uninterruptedly went on the
drinking, smoking, chatting, visiting from box to box
and table to table. But now there was some sort of
thrill of expectation communicated from one to an
other in the mysterious way such things are. The
women leaned back more comfortably, picking up
their lorgnettes ; the men, on the contrary, bent for
ward, eyes fixed with eager expectancy on the dark-
red drop-curtain. There was comparative stillness.
The orchestra began the preluding bars of " Anitra's
Tanz," a clash of cymbals marking the time, and as
the curtain rose a woman, quite young, glowing of
color, sinuous of limb, barbarously gorgeous as to
hue of dress and glitter of ornaments, stood against
the crimson background and began swaying to and
fro. Increasing the rapidity of movement, she pres
ently floated hither and thither, bending, gliding,
sometimes with dusky hair flowing loosely, sometimes
with background of silken skirts blossoming out
widely, then folding petal-wise about her. After
Elsrfs exalted spirituality, this was to Rexford from
moonlight to glowing firelight. With nerves high-
pitched and impressionable, he missed not a note of
the music, not a movement of the dance. Was it only
his fancy that the dancer's thrilling gaze turned more
than once in their direction ?
"What are you trying to write there!" he asked
the journalist, in an undertone. " To describe those
rhythmic Gipsy movements would be to put in words
a wild Moskowski rhapsody, or give in prose the
swaying of a field of scarlet poppies blown by the
wind. You cannot do it."
Penrose, as impenetrable as usual in demeanor, was
taking a note or two. " You like her ? " he asked.
36 THE METROPOLITANS
" She is a beauty," declared Rexford. " Her eyes
are stars, her lips crimson flowers ! But she is a
mere incident of the evening, which is over ! Whither
away now ? It 's only one o'clock. You would n't
desert me so soon?"
He spoke at random ; and Penrose looked at him
attentively, as he had once or twice before during the
evening. " I can give you a while longer," said he,
" when I send these notes."
He found a messenger, and then they called a hack,
and turned in again at a club where high play was
the rule. An hour or so later they stood outside.
"What have you been doing?" Penrose asked
" Just burning my bridges behind me. I had but a
few thousand, and they are gone. Sir ! " lowering his
tone to a mock-dramatic one, "you see before you a
disinherited Infortunatus. The little Lord Cantaloupe
now wears my robe, and in a short while there will be
none so poor to do me reverence. I were no Ancient
Mariner to force into reluctant ear the story of my ill
fortune, were it not that by the morrow, as sure as
you stand there, 't will be a topic of the town. Give
me a light, will you ? " He pulled himself together.
" Don't think me quite a fool, chattering of my own
affairs at such short notice. But though I have n't
been with you much, old man, when a fellow 's on a
strain, you have a sort of way about you
" It 's only that I like you," said the other, with an
entire absence of demonstration. " And if things are
as you say, I wish you 'd see me at my office to-mor
row. You might find it amusing to force the world,
THE METROPOLITANS 37
with some sort of talent held at its head, to stand and
deliver. As for me, I have been a wanderer, and
even at times a refugee, in Alsatia, and am no better
than I should be. But I find the gospel of work
better than none at all, to keep one from going to
pieces. Until to-morrow, then." He went down-town
toward the huge edifice whose crest, rearing among
the stars, looks out over the bay and down upon the
Goddess of Liberty, keeping watch in the harbor a
building alive with activity, twinkling with electric
lights, where great, untiring engines revolve, sending
out the results of thought and enterprise to the ends
of the earth.
It was a curious thing that this man of the world,
ordinarily quite impassive in bearing, and supposed
in the office and the club to be abnormally unemo
tional, should have been the one to divine, with a
great pity, the pangs of wounded trust and reverence
and affection which tore his young companion. The
revelation kept him sleepless until sunshine lighted
the streets again, and awakened life roared and surged
once more among the city's marts.
AR up-town, in Central Park West, the,re
is a row of five or six handsome stone
villas, which were named collectively by
the original owner, an Anglophile, Buck
ingham Terrace. Among these, the
soberest in architecture, quietest in appearance, and
most widely bordered with shaven lawn, belonged to
Miss Valentia Lavender ; which proved that that es
timable lady had laid up quite a pretty sum during
the years following her lamented father's sudden
death in the most respectable street in Philadelphia.
He had left her his blessing only, and a choice collec
tion of debts, which influenced her to go to New York
and open there a "Fashionable School for Young
Ladies." It might be supposed from this that she
enjoyed, in addition, that most valuable heritage, a
complete and liberal education. But when, thanks to
a wide acquaintance in the metropolis, and friendly
assistance from Mr. Pundit and others, her school
flourished apace, it was as a business woman and
financier that Miss Lavender had been a brilliant suc
cess. She had a staff of professors, native and foreign,
to do the necessary drudgery ; and it was a fact that
when a new pupil, in some ill-advised moment, pre-
THE METROPOLITANS 39
sumed rashly to refer a scientific or literary question
to the principal, she was conscious mainly of two
things : first, an immediate chill, and soon afterward
a calm, but paralyzing, criticism, administered in pub
lic, of some special act, or breeding in general. And
if she was a girl of ordinary feminine perceptions, she
soon learned the connection between these two events,
and refrained from further experiments.
But this was a long time ago, and Miss Lavender
was now the head of a " finishing academy." That is,
she received into her own elegant home a limited
number of young girls between sixteen and twenty-
one, at some fabulous sum yearly.
"But what is mere dross, Miss Lavender," asked
Archibald Pundit, gently waving his monocle, " to the
priceless advantages to the absolutely unique privi
lege, don't you know which this raw material enjoys
with you, don't you perceive" ? "
They were pacing sedately the upper terrace, while
from the lawn below came subdued calling and laugh
ter of girls playing tennis; and an autumn sunset
shed golden colors on the park before them. Through
a side entrance masters in elocution, calisthenics, lan
guages, music, the Delsarte method, conversation, the
art of using a fan, a lorgnette, what not ? came and
went. Pupils were summoned now and then from
the tennis-court ; and from behind the window-panes
an occasional running of vocal scales made itself
heard, or a smothered burst of instrumental pyro
"You are always kind, Mr. Pundit," the principal
remarked; "but, without wishing to flatter myself,
40 THE METROPOLITANS
there is positively no other finishing academy in this
city. Of course I don't mean with regard to art or
the languages, or any of that useless stuff learning
which is entirely optional with my girls. Those
things are very well for people who have to earn a
living. But for daughters of the wealthy, who will
be matrimonial prizes, complexion, figure, dress, style,
ease of manner, intimate acquaintance with the cus
toms of the best society these are of the utmost
importance, and these things I guarantee them; as
also to launch them afterward, if desired with your
valuable assistance, Mr. Pundit. Sometimes, in that
event, I am obliged to insist on the parents keeping
out of the way, if they are quite impossible. For in
stance, that old Prime Western, who has such a for
tune in gas- wells, and sent in his printed card tome with
' P. D. Q. Western ' on it. Ah, I see you smile, Mr. Pun
dit! Well, I may have confused the initials with
some foolish play. I saw at once that he would spoil
everything unless kept in the background; but I
make the daughter call herself Miss Prime- Western,
with the hyphen. She is quite stupid and very
pretty ; so I saw it was perfect nonsense to make her
spoil her looks studying all the things he wanted,
because he had n't had no early advantages himself.'
' Leave it all to me,' I said ; and he is very grateful,
and pays for all the extras she does n't learn. But
you know, Mr. Pundit, I do not keep a kindergarten.
Ah, there is the riding-master."
Six or eight horses had by this time been brought
round to the side gate, and several girls were being
carefully mounted. Angelica van Krippen, in irre-
THE METROPOLITANS 41
proachable London habit and high hat, now came up,
and, after saluting Mr. Pundit, asked, " Shall I refer
Herr Strebel to you, Miss Lavender! He seems an
noyed because I wish to ride during the hour for
German. But I told him that uncouth language was
ruining the shape of my mouth; and the verb
schrecJcen einjagen, on which he is now exercising us,
is especially distorting."
" I think you might drop German, Miss van Krip-
pen," said the principal, gravely. "Riding is better
for your complexion. But I wish you would practise
your French which I, ahem ! believe is fair with our
guests from Paris this evening. And ask Mr. Pran-
cer to bring the class back in an hour's time, as the
hair-dresser and manicure will be here before the
dressing-bell rings." The cavalcade clattered off into
the Park, and she continued to Mr. Pundit, " I insist
on full dress every evening. It is a habit which must
be firmly implanted, as indispensable under all cir
cumstances. I remember that young Dashington,
who was such a lion in society and in Wall street, and
is in the penitentiary now, you know well, he said
that after losing his fortune and other people's, and
honesty and reputation, he never really lost his self-
respect until he ceased to dress for dinner. You will
dine with us to-night, Mr. Pundit? A previous en
gagement? I am sorry. We are to have young De
Vaurien and his friend, the charge d'affaires, Mauvais
Sujet. I have a charming letter from his aunt in the
Faubourg, begging me to let her nephew admire some
of the 'buds in my conservatory before they are ex
posed to the full glare of society's sun.' "
42 THE METROPOLITANS
" Veiy pretty, very pretty indeed, Miss Lavender
and shrewd too."
" Yes " (bridling) ; " I thought so. And was an
noyed to receive by the same mail a letter from
a former pupil, who says rather roughly that she
thought it right to warn me that these two young
men are said to have come over in search of an
American heiress. Their debts are enormous, she
says it is reported. But there is always more or less
malicious gossip and poor Milly seems to be embit
tered. You remember Millicent Ophir, Mr. Pundit ?
It was you, by the way, who first presented her hus
band, the Baron Rouge-et-Noir, to her."
"Yes," said Archibald; "a very brilliant match,
don't you know, between money and rank. They
say, I believe, that Rouge-et-Noir spends all her
money gambling, and even, ahem ! even beats her.
But I don't believe these exaggerated reports, you see,
any more than those about the Marquis de Monte
Carlo, who married our little protegee, Miss Mc-
"Miss van Krippen will be one of next season's
debutantes, I think we agreed ; but I am willing to
have her meet a few partis beforehand. They are
simply rolling in wealth, as you know, of course; and
the girl is not bad looking. Her mother, a very vulgar
woman, by the way, who has actually been seen to
put on her gloves in the street, would be pleased if
she secured rank."
" It seems rather a pity, don't you know, for all our
fortunes to go abroad. And you and I, dear madam,
have made such brilliant successes in that line that
THE METROPOLITANS 43
we can afford, I think, to marry a few of your charm
ing pupils here."
"She will have opportunities for that too," said
Miss Lavender, thoughtfully. "Her brother dines
with us occasionally, and also attends our very ex
clusive dancing-class at Cudworth's with some of his
" Ye-es ; but the best thing for such a very rich girl,
whose name, you understand, was originally Cripps,
would be to find a parti, don't you perceive, willing
to exchange family for money. There is young Rex-
"Who has nothing at all now, and refuses his
mother's munificent gift, my dear Mr. Pundit ! Too
erratic, I think."
" I was his father's friend, Miss Lavender, and owe
it to his memory, don't you understand, to give the
young fellow a lift if it comes in my way. And it
would rescue him from that lot of musicians and
artists and writers, and such fellows, don't you know,
out of whose depths, once well in, there is no redemp
It occurred to him that the last phrase had a scrip
tural flavor, and he bowed his head slightly, as he did
in church at the responses, and wore a piously disin
terested air. He did not mention that this had been
a point designedly reached, and that there was in his
pocket a letter from Lady Mellon, in which she sug
gested to the high priest of "form" that his aid in
this matter would be valued, and even delicately com
pensated, by an old acquaintance.
As for the unconscious subject of his charitable
44 THE METROPOLITANS
plans, he had let several weeks elapse after Penrose's
invitation before accepting it, and without seeing him ;
for their orbits seldom crossed.
" I have not been idle, however," he averred, when
he followed his card, at last, up the little black stair
case leading to the assistant editor's office. " On the
contrary, I was never so busy before. There were
horses and traps to sell ; apartment at the Albatross
unlucky name, by the way to get rid of. Unne
cessary? Oh, no; a gilded cobweb holds you by so
many fine little meshes that there is no having free
dom of limb until one breaks away from it all. And
Prince Fortunatus" (laughing) "would like to leave
the stage before his audience leaves him. How can I
tell that some houses, now hospitable, may not soon
be serving me to a dish of cold shoulder ! No, no ;
let me depart with the honors of war, at least."
"Other philosophers have remarked before me,"
said Penrose, making dots on a bit of paper, " that as
long as a man turns a pleasant face to the world, it is
glad to see him. It is mostly in one's over-sensitive
consciousness that Mr. Worldly Wiseman's slights
exist ; and you have many things to make you accept
able if you chose to stay where you are. As youth,
talent, a face " (smiling kindly at his companion) " and
figure not repulsive to most people no? Then that
chapter ends. And for departed glories" (he began
walking about the office), " those things pass away like
a shadow, and like a post that runneth on. . . . And
as a ship that passeth through the waves, whereof,
when it is gone by, the trace cannot be found, nor the
path of its keel in the waters. ... Or as when a bird
THE METROPOLITANS 45
flieth through the air, of the passage of which no mark
can be found, but only the sound of the wings beating
the light air and parting it by the force of her flight.
... Or as when an arrow is shot at a mark, the di
vided air presently cometh together again, so that the
passage thereof is not known."
" That is fine ! that is sonorous ! " exclaimed Rexf ord,
his eyes sparkling.
" Yes you know who quotes Scripture for his own
purpose ; and mine is to draw you into my world. You
will heed the voice of the charmer if he charm melo
diously, for I know your special weakness." He as
sumed a business tone. "You sometimes write the
words for your own songs ? I had heard so. We oc
casionally pay for original verse if it will compare
with what we get from other papers without pay. But
in the mean time, for steady work, you might take our
musical and dramatic critic's place he is still ill. Your
knowledge of music would come in there. And there
are odd jobs, such as the foot-ball game to-morrow
afternoon that would be easy for a university man.
And and bring in any matter that presents itself; a
fresh touch is often acceptable."
" Well," said Rexford, smiling, but a little flurried,
" you give me variety, at least, from poetry to foot-ball.
Enter a raw recruit, and here his weapons." He seized
a bundle of pens.
" Did you call me ? " inquired a flaxen-haired youth,
putting his head in at the door.
" I did not," said Penrose, " but as you are in, let
me introduce you to Mr. Rexford Mr. Jenkins, one of
ours. Mr. Rexford is joining our ranks."
46 THE METROPOLITANS
" Glad to meet you, sir," said Jenkins, who had often
admired Rexford at a distance, and marveled at the
brilliancy and subsequent eclipse of his fortune.
"Finest career in the world," declared Mr. Jenkins,
" always" (with a heavy sigh) "excepting art."
" You must know," said Penrose, " that Mr. Jenkins,
whose specialty is frequenting the giddy haunts of
fashion and describing the ladies' pretty gowns, is
discontented because fate will not allow him to attain
eminence in music or the drama. He longs for the
technic and hair of Paderewski."
" I hope Mr. Rexford knows chaff from wheat," ob
served the careless Jenkins. But, as he appeared to
have some sort of business with his chief, Rexford took
his leave a few moments afterward, ran down the
narrow stairs whistling, " A Wandering Minstrel I,"
and laughed when he found himself with one of the
pens still in his hand. He thrust it in his pocket, and
crossed over to the elevated road, still whistling softly.
It was a proof of the soundness of the young fellow's
nature that he did not shrink from beginning life again
on this other plane, but really felt a certain exhilaration
at thought of the conflict to come. His curiosity, too,
was newly alert to observe the humors of the traveling
crowd about him in the car, from contact with which
he had been generally kept hitherto by the possession
of a dog-cart and groom.
" Everything is possible ' matter ' now," he thought,
with the instinct of the budding journalist ; and, find
ing nothing of much interest about him, he took to
observing and making mental notes for future use of
the flying panorama outside. A man at a fifth-story
THE METEOPOLITANS 47
window shaving himself, and humming a broken bar
or two of a popular song between strokes ; a baker's
sign, "Muffins and Crumpets"; "Aqui se habla Es-
panol " ; " Spanknebel, Phrenologist " ; a woman hang
ing out many-colored, fluttering garments to dry on a
roof clothes-line ; tenements with dilapidated bedding
on fire-escapes, and a pitiful bit of black crape hanging
at one window ; huge wall-posters of the Thingvalla
Steamship Line ; a soup-kitchen for the very poor, and
" The Only Bible Truth Supply" for the same clients ;
an Italian boarding-house wafting in a smell of garlic
when the conductor opened a door ; the Lutherisches
Pilger-Haus; "Studio for Welsh Rabbits"; "Spook
Pictures Developed Cheap"; "Thornbush's Chop-
house"; "Deutsche Apotheke" these and all the
other kaleidoscopic signs and sights of the unfashion
able quarters of a cosmopolis he passed ; and, instead
of the indifference with which he would have regarded
them not long before, he felt in his heart the stirring
of a latent kinship with all humanity. And just after
he ran down the steps at his station and started toward
Broadway, an accident occurred to arouse him into
warmer sympathy. There was a collision between
vehicles; some one was knocked down; a throng
formed as quickly as such throngs do ; and a police
man essayed, with voice and club, to procure a little
clear space and air around a motionless figure on the
"What keeps the ambulance?" asked Rexford,
shouldering his way through.
" I dunno " (shortly) ; " it 's been rung for twice ;
seems like it ain't a-comin'."
48 THE METROPOLITANS
"Why," the young man exclaimed, "the hospital 's
only two blocks off ! She should have help at once.
See here, give her to me ; I can carry her easily." The
straight-shouldered figure, toughened by polo and
other athletics, stooped and picked up the unconscious
woman, her cheap, blood-stained gown hanging against
his sleeve. " Come on," he said to the policeman, who,
taken by surprise, tramped at his side, followed by
such of the crowd as had no business or desire of their
own to point them ; and, turning a corner to the hos
pital, they ran against Mortimer van Krippen. " Why,
hello ! " cried he. " What sort of procession is this ?
It is n't the 17th of March ! "
But when the good-hearted little dandy understood,
he too trotted along to the hospital door, where Rex-
ford delivered up his wounded charge. " My name ?
No, certainly not," to a man with a note-book. " Like
the spring flowers, it ' has nothing to do with the case.' "
He took Morty by the arm and strode off for fear some
one might recognize him.
" Now," grumbled Morty, " what do you mean by it
all this hiding out and not letting anybody know
where you are ? Never at a club, and a strange fellow
in your place at the Albatross ! Where are you, any
how, when a chap wants you ? "
" Right here, then for the present only, however,
I must tell you," replied Rexford, stopping at a hotel.
" But, Van Krippen, you are aware that I Ve retired
from the giddy vortex, and can't even ask you up just
now, as I 've some work on hand."
"Work ! " echoed Morty ; "well, it's a beastly shame !"
11 Pooh ! " (loftily) " there are hundreds would be glad
THE METROPOLITANS 49
to get it. You must study up social economics." He
was eager to get rid of his good-natured companion,
and try his not altogether prentice hand at something
for the "Argus."
" But see here," persisted Mortimer, " I 'm not going
to let you slip entirely. Can't you come to the Or
pheus to-morrow ? I Ve a box, you know. Got Miss
Lavender to let my sister out for the night. She '11 be
there with Miss de Mansur and her father. There '11
be some other fellows. Benefit performance, you know
sort of olla podridano, that 's a beastly stuff with
oil and garlic, and nearly killed me at a Spanish res
taurant once ! But you know what I mean, old chappy
new dancer, Paderewski, and that."
As Eexford was music mad, the last name was one
to conjure with especially when Katherine's was
added. " I 'm a weak fool," he hastily thought, " but
I have n't been near her since ; and why not? " He
said aloud carelessly, " Well, I '11 drop in for a while,
thank you, Van Krippen. I may have to write the
critique on that performance."
IHOUGH Cornelius de Mansur lifted his
voice in protest against many features
of modern journalism, the paper which
annoyed him least in these matters was
usually an accompaniment to his break
fast roll. Carefully avoiding the murders and elabo
rately worked-up sensations and other feasts of horror
prepared for the morbid, as well as the unconsidered
trifles snapped up by those who greedily relish per
sonal gossip, it was his amiable habit to glance over
the pages, and if anything of interest appeared to pass
it over presently to Katherine. And on this morning,
after looking at notices of new books, he handed her
the page on which were also dramatic reviews and
short verses, mostly copied, which treated of birds and
butterflies and blossoms and young affections, and such
pretty little tiny kickshaws. And among these was
one signed " A. R." which Katherine noted with quick
ening of the pulse and elaborate indifference of man
ner. It was called " Love's Signal Service," and ran :
When I would know
If balmy airs or stormy winds do blow,
My lady's face I view.
The fine and level-fronting eyebrows dark,
The soft cheek's flaming crimson flag I mark,
Tempestuous days to rue.
THE METROPOLITANS 51
Or would I ask
If I in frost must freeze, or warmth may bask,
I seek my lady's eyes.
Should she their light, all careless, turn away,
Or veil them, coldest waves relentless play
On heart that prostrate lies.
But when I find
My heavens clear, my sunshine to my mind,
Harsh frost and storm o'erpast,
What sweetest rose can match her cheek or mouth?
Her glance, that 's softer far than breeze of South,
Makes weather bright at last.
If but my dear
With such fair signs the days would always cheer,
Sigh or smile so,
Blue skies and zephyrs mild throughout the year,
Sweet spring in winter, taste of heaven here,
Then I should know.
In another column was a fairly interesting criticism
on last night's opera, signed " A. R." also.
" Nothing but trash there, I suppose ? " asked papa,
unconscious, lifting his cup. " Remind me, Katherine,
of that meeting of the Grolier on the fourth. The
coffee is exceptionally good this morning."
He tasted it leisurely and placidly, no more suspect
ing the quickened emotions behind the clear eyes of
the "cherished, stately daughter across the table than
any of us suspect what is going on in the hearts and
minds of our nearest and dearest who walk always at
our side and drink of the same cup. And she an
swered, laughing, " You will not need to be reminded
of that meeting, you blessed hypocrite ! You will think
of nothing else until then."
And with that very crimson flag the writer spoke of
52 THE METROPOLITANS
flaming on her cheek, and hotter anger within, she
thought, "Has the gentleman, perchance, been flirtiug
with some shrew? Beshrew me if I care!" then
scorned herself for using his sometimes playfully
stilted phrases ; for it was in her pride that she was,
after all, most wounded. This young nymph, with a
heart accessible to all other kindly and tender emotions,
had walked with her head high, defying the eternal
Eros. And though no one but herself knew that her
step had faltered for a moment, that her glance had
drooped, that an appealing meekness had threatened
to subdue her, none the less was her resentment.
" How dared he look and speak so with no sequel !
After after everything he has said and done not to
approach us for weeks ! Perhaps Ms mamma the Lady
Mellon disapproves, and he dutifully acquiesces ! "
So by evening the varying and not readily controlled
emotions of the morning had settled into a cool con
tempt, to which it might have been well if the heart
of the " Love's Signal " observer had not been exposed.
It never once occurred to the unworldly spirit of the
girl that his altered fortunes would seem to a high-
spirited man reason enough for not unduly pressing
before the more fortunate ones attracted by her beauty
A few of these minions of fortune, as young Koyall
Worcester, Dick Crowne Derby, one of the Ashley
Vanderlyns, and others, were in evidence in the box at
the Orpheus, grouped about the two girls, when Rex-
ford entered that evening. He was rather buoyant in
manner, for, even if it were but a verse or so and an
opinion or two, they had been printed and everything
THE METROPOLITANS 53
must have a beginning. He greeted Mr. de Mansur,
who responded cordially, " How d' ye do, my dear boy,
and where have you been all this while ? " Angelica
van Krippen looked at him distantly through her
lorgnette ; then murmured, " Have you a strawberry-
mark! No? Then you are you are my long-lost
friend ! " and gave him her hand.
" I must not," he thought, " meet Tier eye indecently
soon or show my wild gladness;" deferring his bliss
for the space of a word with this one or a jest with
that one ; and lo ! when he did meet her glance it was
as bright and distant as stars on a frosty night. She
said "Good evening," as to a casual acquaintance, and,
with Royall Worcester at one shoulder and Morty van
Krippen talking over the other, there was small chance
of approaching. " But what does it mean ? " He forgot
that the changes and preoccupations of the past weeks
and his absorption in his own affairs were unexplained,
expecting, quite humanly, that she would have been
awaiting his return with suspended breath and eyes
softly luminous. " Of course all the world knows of
my altered fortune, and lots of people will be different.
But she Katherine de Mansur a being noble and
spiritual, compact of snow and fire oh ! by heaven ! "
He winced, and then laughed at something Ashley
Vanderlyn said without knowing what it was. He
held in his hand some pale roses, with ferns, and when
she suggested, with repellent carelessness, "For Pade-
rewski, of course ? " he answered, with equally polite
indifference, " Should one give flowers to a man ? "
" We only needed this worldly old noodle to make
the party complete ! " he thought, when Archie Pundit
54 THE METROPOLITANS
came in ; which was unjust to his father's old friend,
who was well enough pleased to note his proximity
to Angelica van Krippen. He began now to devote
himself with feverish assiduity to his fair neighbor,
who gave flattering attention to his least remark and
paid no heed to the comedy with which the program
opened. But Miss van Krippen was a clear-headed
damsel, under whose flaxen brows and piquant little
nose events might pass exciting special wonder with
out a sign from her.
Now the great pianist appeared, long and slender,
with shock of light-colored hair and features regular
and too cold in expression, it would seem, to denote
the emotional artistic temperament. He played Schu
mann's " Papillons " superbly ; and when the enthusi
asm which followed could be quieted, he gave his own
tender and melodious " Chant du Voyageur." A little
later it was Liszt's arrangement of " Hark, Hark, the
Lark ! "
"Ars longa, vita brevis," said Cornelius de Mansur,
"which is trite, but true. It makes humanity's futile
struggling for this or that seem ignoble, sordid, when
these immortal melodies and harmonies soar like that
lark to 'heaven's gate' and join the music of the
spheres. Yes, and will still resound when our hot
hearts_and restless minds are dust!"
" True, true, quite true," said Archibald Pundit, who
knew no more of music than of Sanskrit, and detested
any reference to man's inevitable end as "very bad
form, don't you know."
" Thank you, Mr. de Mansur," said Rexford, simply.
He had felt both the exaltation and the soothing
THE METEOPOLITANS 55
consequent on music. Cornelius gave him a friendly
glance. Ashley Vanderlyn belonged to a Southern
family whose traditions inculcated deference to age ;
so he had listened to the old gentleman with respect.
The others, except Rexford, had not listened at all.
Morty was trying to distract Katherine's attention, and
Angelica was keeping most of the young men amused
by running comments on Mr. Pundit, whom she ex
amined as though he were some rare specimen of beetle.
" I love to see him beat time," she murmured ; " he al
ways does it in public, and never does it right. He
says the opera is primarily a social function, and the
artists and listeners are merely incidental. Says how
would they be supported if society did n't do it ! No
money, no opera. Says he shows himself there as a
duty to the public, and considers his subscription gives
him full right to talk all the time if he wishes. Says
it 's very good in society women to give ordinary music-
lovers a chance to see their diamonds and gowns,
which 'otherwise they would never have, don't you
" I had n't thought of that," said Royall Worcester.
" He comes to Miss Lavender's evenings sometimes,"
she continued, " and told me the other night that what
I sang was a ' little noisy, but not otherwise disagree
able.' I was delighted, for I suspected then that he
might have heard me speak of him as a ' pompous old
idiot.' Yes, I know it was horrid, but I meant it to
shock Miss Lavender. He is said to be paying his
addresses to our Valentia. He is a widower, you know,
of attenuated income and expensive habits; and she
has money and is a descendant of Poor Richard, if she
56 THE METROPOLITANS
is the head of a finishing academy ! His coat of arms
would look well on her dark-green coupe. But he will
never see it there oh dear, no ! She is an excel
lent business woman, with remarkably level head, and
knows when she is well off, I think. Ah, here conies
Ignace once more ! "
The pianist played again, and then a final encore,
and the delight of the audience knew no bounds.
Women stood up in the rear to catch a glimpse of him,
shouting and waving their handkerchiefs; those in
front pressed and crowded to the footlights, taking
off their boutonnieres to pass them over into his re
" He looks veiy bored," said Katherine, " as though
he might soon insist upon having a body-guard. It
must be a penalty of greatness that admirers should
overstep the homage due to art, and infringe on the
rights of the man. Too bad to have all this noise spoil
those last heavenly chords ! "
It was the first time she had seemed to address him
directly, and Rexf ord, still under the spell of the music,
answered softly, " Yes, it is too bad. I must have him
to play for you and your father only in my rooms, if
If he had forgotten for a moment, her look of slight
surprise instantly recalled while it chilled him. " Ah,
I have reminded her that I am no longer Prince For-
tunatus, but a man of no consequence."
He bent to tell Miss van Krippen the name of the
new Spanish air the orchestra now played. " Yes, her
own name is Jasmina, I believe. There she is."
The dancer wore now a Calabrian peasant dress and
THE METROPOLITANS 57
carried castanets, which clicked in time with the odd,
rhythmic tread of the bolero. The " bravas " and ex
cited cheers were as on her first appearance, and, as
then, the great starry eyes blazed and softened alter
nately, when, gliding to the front, her mnte daring
demand for admiration changed into appeal. And
suddenly, with hands held straight down at her sides
and fingers locked upon the castanets, she came swiftly
just below the Van Krippen box, quite near, and stood
perfectly still, looking up. The orchestra, astonished,
still continued the strain. The party looked down at
"She awaits her due," said Rexford, and, gazing
down into the dusky eyes upraised, tossed his flowers
to her. She caught them before they fell, pressed them
with a passionate gesture to her heart, and went on
with the dance. When the curtain came down after
her last recall, he perceived Penrose standing near the
doorway, who beckoned to him. " Not going to stay
for the last act of Brummel?" asked Van Krippen.
" That ends the bill, you know ; and I thought you ; d
come to supper afterward."
" Can't this evening, thank you," he answered. He
had not seen Katherine shrink and bite her lip when
her flowers were thrown to the dancer. "I am late
now ; I must see one of ours on business." He made
a comprehensive farewell bow, and Katherine's in re
turn had perhaps an extra film of ice.
" Very bad form," said Mr. Pundit, disgusted, " for
a man to allude to business in society. Mark my words,
that young man is deteriorating, don't you under
68 THE METROPOLITANS
" I would have come for you," said Penrose, " but
saw old Archie there, and would n't afflict him unne
cessarily. You '11 lose the treat of seeing him enjoy
the ' Beau ' j kindred spirits, he thinks ; and they tell
me he insisted on shaking hands with Mansfield the
first time he saw liirn act the part. Jenkins is here, and
will give you notes of the rest to write up, and add to
your own of Paddy ne vous en deplaise, maestro and
of Jasmina. By the way, youngster, you distinguished
yourself with your flowers, and set a bad example, for
I saw Van Krippen throw his sister's down afterward,
for which that little lady appeared to rate him soundly.
Would you like " (he drew out his watch and glanced
at it carelessly) "you might like to meet Jasmina,
whose other name is Madame Vaskaros. I knew her in
Paris, and have the entree to her dressing-room. She
said something about wishing to have you presented."
Allan Rexford wondered a little that Penrose had
not mentioned this previous acquaintance when they
first saw her at the vaudeville. But what did it matter
to him ? "A lovely creature," he commented, " and as
graceful and light as thistle-down. Of course let us
They went around to the stage entrance, where
Penrose's careless hand- wave reassured the porter ; at
the end of a dingy little passage they stumbled over
some steps leading to the star's room. "Entrez!"
called the shrill voice of a maid. They went in where
Jasmina sat before a dressing-table strewn with the
necessaries of a stage toilet curling-tongs, rouge,
India ink, rice powder, perfume, all in confusion. She
still wore her Calabrian dress ; but the maid had folded
THE METROPOLITANS 59
a crimson velvet and fur carriage- wrap about her and
was removing an inconveniently high comb from her
hair. She gave an impatient movement as they en
tered, and the dusky crown fell in undulating masses
over her shoulders. " It is nothing/' she said in French ;
11 leave it so." The lace scarf the maid threw over it
was hardly blacker. She did not wait, but rose and
advanced to them with a swift glide. " Ah, Stephen,
is it you ? " Only the accent was foreign. " And your
friend, Mr. Raix oh, the hard name ! I have heard
Mr. Penrose speak so much of you. The lovely flowers,
too." She raised them to her face. Her tables were
loaded with others, but these were all she held. " I
would ask you both to supper, but I am so tired to
There was something appealing in her wearied tone,
and quite softly youthful in her manner. "Ah, you
liked it ! You are both so kind ; some night soon, then.
And, Stephen, about to-morrow, when I am to make
trial with the manager of the Rosemont by your in
terest. Tell me, will you come or will you send some
one at twelve o'clock ? "
" I cannot come then, Jasmina, at that hour. It is
quite a sure thing, your engagement. The press no
tices have made him eager to see you himself. But
Mr. Rexford may be able to go." By this time they
were at her carriage door, the maid following. Then
she said, seating herself, " It will be for Mr. Raixf ore
I will dance, then, not for the stupid manager." She
raised her flowers once more to her face, leaned out
once more until they could see her shining eyes.
" Good night ! good night ! " and she was gone.
60 THE METROPOLITANS
" Coquettish, I suppose, as they usually are ? " Rex-
ford said tentatively.
His quiet companion paused a few moments, look
ing straight ahead, and then said deliberately, " No, I
should say not coquettish as they usually are. Jas-
mina is rather unusual, I think."
[HEN Rexford jarred the finest chords of
Mr. Pundit's nature by turning his back
011 that gentleman's select circle and cast
ing in his lot with the " Argus," Penrose
had suggested, "That 's an inconveni
ently distant place you stay at now. Why not come
down a little nearer the office f There 's a vacant room
or two near mine at our place, I think." So he had
moved down to Penrose's lodgment, a sort of pigeon-
house up among the clouds, and commanding a view
of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, and hav
ing its little nooks filled with all sorts and conditions
of fledgelings, who were trying their wings and sharp
ening their beaks in their more or less venturesome
Our young men's floor was the highest of all " for
the air and the scenery," said Penrose. " Jenkins calls
this floor ' Simla ' ; for he says that in July it 's quite
like getting up among the hills from the East Indian
heat of the pavements." That ingenuous youth occu
pied an apartment separated from their rooms by only
a narrow passage, and when Rexford awoke on the
morning after the Orpheus benefit performance he
could hear him declaiming as he performed his toilet.
He was, indeed, announcing loudly :
62 THE METEOPOLITANS
" I was a viking old !
My deeds, though manifold,
No scald in song has told,
No saga taught thee."
" Open the doors," called Rexford, in a sleepy voice,
" so that I can hear you." And when the other, de
ceived, threw open the two doors between, it was nar
rowly to escape a well-aimed boot-jack. It was hurled
back and followed by the stout figure of the elocution
ist, whose wiry hair, with the aid of two brushes, was
being forced into chevaux-de-frise on each side of his
" What do you mean ? " he asked indignantly. " Have
you not taste enough to appreciate Longfellow ! "
" You look like a comic valentine," responded Rex-
ford, cruelly. " Will you dare to tell me that, fatter
and scanter of breath than any Prince of Denmark
ever was, you mean to recite ' The Skeleton in Armor >
in public ! "
" Sir, you may go to go three ! go four, if you will !
I would have you to know that I am the bright par
ticular star of our Amateur Dramatic Club, and it is
your loss that you have not heard me. I must give
you a ticket for the next performance; it 's for a
charity, and to be followed by a masquerade." He
finished his hair at the glass, then exclaimed, "See
here, don't you mean to get up to-day? 'Falsely
luxurious/ " he pompously spouted, " ' when will man
arise, and, springing from his bed of sloth, enjoy the
cool, the fragrant, and the solemn hour, to meditation
due and sacred song ! ' also sometimes to one's laun
dress, when she calls with her little bill ; I hear her now
THE METEOPOLITANS 63
at my door. I will return anon whenever that is ! "
He went off humming in falsetto Neidlinger's " Sere
nade." He was perfectly at home now in his fellow-
scribbler's room, having lost his former awe of him
as a "tremendous swell," and having become accus
tomed to his presence in this hive of working bees.
But Rexford had that touch of human sympathy, that
accessibility to his kind, which made his handsome
face and form welcome everywhere, as such happily
endowed natures are. With Penrose, uneffusive of
demeanor ordinarily, coldly exacting in most things,
perfectly reticent as to his past and inscrutable as to
present aims or hopes, he grew daily more intimate.
Even now there was a fragrant steam arising from the
coffee bubbling over the lamp left in readiness for him
by the elder on going out one of many little unpre
cedented acts of thoughtfulness, which made Jenkins
open wider his already rather staring light eyes.
After dressing and taking the cup of coffee the only
breakfast these night-birds needed Rexford remem
bered the appointment at the Rosemont. He remem
bered Katherine, too, as he went quickly through the
streets to the theater, but it was with a quickening of
resentment which last night's chill of disappointment
had brought. " There are Royall Worcester, Crowne
Derby, and the rest always at her elbow. They still
have fortunes to spend ! Or perhaps De Mansur is more
mercenary than I thought. Morty is an amiable little
fellow, if he is not bright, and has more money than
all of them together. His sister is with her constantly.
O Katherine, could it be possible ! " He ran into some
one and apologized hastily. " Katherine, Katherine,"
64 THE METROPOLITANS
his thoughts went on. " Well, ' if she be not fair to
me ' if of herself she will not love, nothing can make
her." He was distracted enough when he stopped at
the back door of the stage entrance of the Rosemont,
which the ancient Cerberus unbolted and flung open
with, " Will ye please to step inside ? The manager 's
He went in. The manager greeted him hastily:
"Make yourself comfortable anywhere you can, Mr.
Rexford. Advertised yesterday for girls for the Dance
of Bedouins, you know, and the cry is, ' Still they come ! '
Can you get through ? Don't mind the crowd." He
bustled about, himself trying to bring some sort of
order out of confusion. Girls had answered the
advertisement; not only the hundred required, but
twice or thrice that number ; and they surged through
the narrow hallway and out on the stage girls and
girls galore ! Tall and short, stout and thin, fair and
dark. They melted away in the shadow of the great
stage and emerged again into the open space in front
of the footlights. Two arc-lamps, dangling from
mysterious heights above, shed a dim light over the
scene. Rexford, as soon as might be, made his way
through the armies and took refuge in a box.
"Please to form a row," said the manager, mar
shaling them for their ordeal. A pretty, well-shaped
girl stepped timidly to the front and hung her head.
After being carefully inspected, he made her a sign of
approval, and she retreated smiling. Then another
" Stand to one side. You will not do."
"What's the matter?"
THE METEOPOLITANS 65
" Why, you are scarcely five feet high. Arab women
are tall and willowy. Stand aside."
The next accepted with a sigh a sign of dismissal,
but Rexford had an uneasy misgiving that she burst
into tears after retiring. Suppose she needed the
money for an ill or aged father or mother, or some
little sisters ? He was obliged to harden his heart with
the reflection that, even so, the manager could not
engage them all. The number required was at last
secured, and accepted and rejected were alike shown
out again by the gruff doorkeeper, who was really a
kind old fellow, with a rough word or two of sym
pathy and encouragement for the dejected.
" Now that 's over," said the manager. " The men
will not come until to-morrow. As for trying Jasmina,
that 's a mere form. Between you and me, we are
bound to have her at any price. Here she is now."
He left Rexford in the semi-darkness of the pro
scenium-box to meet the dancer, who advanced to the
front, leaving her maid with wraps in the rear of the
stage. She nodded quietly to the manager, not ap
pearing to see any one else. Her silken costume, all
black, seemed a sheath from which the graceful
shoulder and head, clear olive tints and scarlet of
cheek and lip, glowed in relief. Her foot, its arched
instep defined in the black satin shoe which clung to
its perfect mold, tapped the floor for a moment or two
in time with the orchestra magically appearing from
beneath the stage. "Ver-ry, ver-ry slow," she told
them, and began. The manager clapped his hands at
the end. " I think, madame, we will contrive to suit
each other. If you are willing, the contract may be
66 THE METROPOLITANS
signed to-day. We hope for a long run for ' The Pearl
of the Bedouins.' Excuse me for a moment ; some one
is calling." The orchestra suddenly disappeared into
the floor again. " Wait for me outside," she told her
maid ; and then, opening the box door, came down a
step and seated herself beside Rexford.
" It was so good of you to come. Not that I care
for the press notices. Stephen scolds me a little be
cause I do not care says I am too wild and thought
less about those things ; but what does it really matter ?
The sun will shine just the same ; a tambourine makes
a good enough orchestra ; and bread with liberty, and
a little stew now and then, is always possible." She
rolled her r's a little, not unpleasantly. There was
about her a faint atmosphere of some sort of perfume
sandalwood perhaps Oriental in its suggestiveness.
" A firefly, I tell Stephen, lives but for a day and night
or so, and needs not much. But I will like to thank
you for coming. I was glad to dance for for some
one else than the old manager. And I will not sign
a long contract no ; it would suffocate me ! I dance
at the vaudeville to-night. Will you come, after, to
supper with Stephen? Mr. ah, Mr. your name is
so hard ! "
" I have another " (beginning to laugh) ; " you might
call me Allan."
" Allan ! Allan ! not quite so bad. Say mine. It is
more musical Jasmina."
He could not refuse, still laughing, to say her name
over once or twice, to her almost childish pleasure.
" Then you will come ? " She touched his hand with
her smooth brown fingers, and was gone before the
THE METEOPOLITANS 67
manager came bustling back with profuse apologies.
He was nearly as attentive to the " Argus " represen
tative as hitherto to the fashionable patron.
When the two men were going along the street that
night together, Penrose, after being answered at ran
dom two or three times, inquired, " Ou est la femme f
I seem to hear the rustle of her garments."
" I beg your pardon oh ! I was not necessarily in
that 'delightful atmosphere. I may have been with
Reginald Crofton in Africa, pulling off kid gloves to
startle the natives, or up in my room, attempting to
make Pegasus trot in time with some of my verselets."
" I beg your pardon I was intrusive."
" My dear fellow, no. Who has a better right ? I
suppose I have been doing my work to-day on a per
functory basis, which your keen sight has noted. I
am suffering, in fact, from a disillusionment, which
has lately caused me to wear my rue with a difference."
" That," said Penrose, " is, I surmise, a pang you
share with many after first youth slips away, which,
like charity, believeth and hopeth all things. Maturity
mostly spends itself clutching desperately at what
fragments are left of that early beautiful faith in hu
manity. For myself, I never had it. It may, perhaps,
have been born with me, but if so I learned my pes
simism very soon. I have never been much with people
belonging to me, and the world looks very large and
unfeeling to the eyes of a small Welsh boy left in a
Hungarian forest, with no English-speaking creature
near. Well, as I was saying, life comes high, though
it seems we must have it. But, my dear lad " (he put
a hand on his friend's shoulder, with a smile softening
68 THE METEOPOLITANS
wonderfully his cold face), " you were never meant for
a pessimist, and your own nature will make up all to
you even disillusionment with your ideals. But"
(more lightly) " you will like Jasmina, I hope, who is
not ideal at all. But she has a heart yes, Jasmina
has a heart, which is not an every-day possession with
wandering Romany dancers."
She had a pretty manner too, as she presently proved,
greeting them with an unconventional frankness fasci
nating in its warmth. She took Peurose's two hands
in hers as though she would lift them to her lips ; and
closed the left softly over the one which clasped Rex-
ford's. Advancing to meet them, she had thrown down
a guitar among the pile of cushions into which she
sank again, taking up the instrument and now and
then sweeping a tinkling chord or two. " You know
every one, I think ? " There were one or two actresses
of note, a famous tenor from the opera, an artist who
made surreptitious sketches of her when she kept still
long enough, and two or three men of fashion and
also of some wit; for Jasmina's requirements began
and ended with that. "Life is too short," she said.
" I cannot be bored." And there was a story extant
that she had told Mortimer van Krippen, " You must
uot come any more. I am sorry, but you do not amuse
me at all. You have no ideas and no ear for music."
Penrose's glance sought an alcove where stood an
elongated table with green cloth cover, and in the
center a revolving disk with cells alternating red and
black and numbered, but motionless just now. " No,"
she said, "you bad Stephen, no play to-night. I am
too tired for late hours this evening, and shall send
THE METROPOLITANS 69
you all off after supper." This was brought in while
she talked to Rexf ord. " You will sit beside me," she
said. They talked of everything and nothing, and
drank Tokay out of tall thin glasses, and broke out
into a snatch of chorus around the table every now
and then. Suddenly she picked up her guitar, and
Rexford was surprised to hear her sing, to a very odd
" When I would know
If balmy airs or stormy winds do blow,
My lady's face I view."
Penrose might have pointed out the words as his
friend's ; they were in the paper for all to read ; but
who had set them to this strange melody ! She laughed
gaily at his look of wonder. " It is a Romany ah-. I
fitted the words to it. They go well, do they not ? "
" But I did not know you sang and such a voice ! "
" Oh, yes, my voice was trained when my feet were ;
but I used them both before that." She dismissed them
soon after, but with a pretty, soft apology in her
sweetly bewildering good-night glance.
"We have time still," suggested Penrose, "to stop
at the Chimes for a ' beer.' "
This was a sort of club to which he had introduced
the younger. It was mainly for journalists and others
whose late occupations brought with them a nipping
and an eager appetite toward the dawn, and it was
open only after twelve at night. " Named, I believe,"
said Penrose, " in honor of the immortal Justice Shal
low. A good place, youngster, for you to meet others
of the profession, and get as much and give as little
news as possible. And you 're certain not to meet
70 THE METROPOLITANS
college students there a blessing to be devoutly
thankful for ! " This, as they were almost run into
by a band of the last-named youths, proving with
linked arms the breadth of the pavement, and shout
ing, that all the town might hear, that they were " sons
of a sons of a sons of a sous of a sons of a gam-
boleer ! " Also that, being rambling rakes of poverty,
they took their whisky clear. Perhaps it was for this
last purpose that their voices died away in the distance.
" Now how pleasant that for sleepers along this route
invalids especially ! Somebody ought to be in charge
of those boys and keep them from being too offensive."
" Now what do you want, Penrose," grumbled Rex-
ford, good-naturedly, "with beer after Tokay, and a
pipe after Russian cigarettes, and all that smoke and
noisy talk after Jasmina ? "
" I 'm in the habit of going suddenly from country
to country. I like violent contrasts, and New York 's
the place for that, for we have all countries right here.
One may dine in all languages, or breakfast in Ger
many, lunch in Italy, and dine in France. You have
not tried the Malay restaurant in Madison street and
scorched your palate with curry and pilau? or been
among the Scandinavians down near Castle Garden,
drinking Swedish punch and caraway beer ? Ah, you
thought an occasional Greek or Chinese meal a novelty,
but you have n't half explored. Here we are j and just
listen to those fellows roar."
They stopped at the doorway of an old house in the
neighborhood of Trinity graveyard, and pushed open
a second swing-door, from behind which came a mighty
tumult of voices. Through the mist of tobacco smoke
THE METROPOLITANS 71
a large square room showed, with a stained and faded
picture of Cornwallis's surrender over the mantelpiece
of carved wood. Walls and ceiling were a sort of
chrome yellow, the woodwork dirty red, tables un-
painted and unvarnished, and the floor sanded. Orders
for chops punctuated the conversation, as also, more
frequently, impatient calls for beer, porter, or ale from
the wood, quaffed thirstily out of pewter mugs.
" Ha, is 7 t thou, my gentle youth ! " ranted some one
in the cloud of smoke. " Come hither ; and, boy, bring
us zwei bier."
"Nay, nay," called another; "I want the gallant
Jenkins stood nearest to them. He seemed incensed,
and held the ruins of a hat on which some considerable
amount of avoirdupois had evidently been deposited.
" 1 7 d like to know," he soliloquized loudly, " what fool
has been sitting on my hat."
"I cannot tell you," replied Rexford, laughing;
" but if the gentleman is in the room, he has had the
benefit of a candid opinion at least."
One of the "Argus" book reviewers, a languid
young man with a long nose, came in and called out,
" Did you know, Rexford, that your Jenkins, my Jen
kins, our Jenkins, Jenkins of the 'Argus,' is on the
eve of deadly combat ? And that with a man who was
hobnobbing with him only yesterday at the horse show,
under the eyes of a boxful of pretty girls ! And com
pliments flew back and forth between them on the
things they write heaven save the mark ! I Ve al
ways suspected Jenkins, myself, of being a wild-eyed
socialist and a bold, bad man who would shake hands
72 THE METBOPOLITANS
with a pirate ! And now this other fellow has found
him out and wants to fight him ! "
Jenkins's round red face expanded in a grin. "I
know I 'm sanguinary," said he, " and gunpowder 's
the only perfume. But I don't send type- written cartels
calling names and wanting people to fight duels ! I
think it 's too late in the century for that. It 's a most
entertaining letter. It calls me a cad and other pretty
things because I wrote a humorous little skit on an
article of his. And when he was so solemnly affable
to me at the show, it was because he did n't know I
was the one who wrote it. And now he seems so con
foundedly mad because I did n't sign my name. He
is n't half as sorry as I am that I 'm not allowed to
write over my own name. I thought nearly everybody
had discovered by this time that newspaper reporters
write anonymously. It 's a fact, you know."
"Is it?" came a laughing chorus.
" Of course you will now scrap on the field of honor,"
said the book reviewer with the long nose. "You
must have Rexford as second. He is authority on
form; he knows Mr. Pundit."
" I say, Rexford," said Jenkins, his own genial self
again, " be sure and come to our dramatic performance
next week. It '11 be fine ; and for the benefit of the
Indigent Dyspeptics a very worthy charity. I have
not asked Penrose. He makes fun of everything in
that freezing way of his, and the others don't like
him. Dash of cold water, you know."
It would seem that Rexford was as much a favorite
in this free-and-easy resort as elsewhere. "All the
same," observed a quiet old stock-reporter in the corner,
THE METROPOLITANS 73
" he '11 never make a journalist. His heart is not in it.
It 7 s just an odd column or two of matter in his life."
Penrose overheard him and winced. " You are a fool,"
he told himself, roughly. " Did you expect to turn the
lad into a scribbler just that you might keep him be
side you ? "
[ORNELIUS DE MANSUR loved his one
fair daughter passing well and with a
watchful tenderness ; still, it was a num
ber of years since he had been young
himself and had lost his young wife, and
during that interval he had concerned himself more
with rare editions and curious bindings than with
matters of sentiment. So when it occurred to him one
morning that her step was a thought languid, perhaps,
and her manner listless, he ascribed it at once to the
only ailment he knew much about, a "touch of dys
pepsia," for which he always prescribed air and exer
cise. He proceeded now to catechize her with the
magisterial solemnity at which it was her custom to
" Come here, Katherine."
She sat upon the arm of his chair.
" I can't see you there."
" You can feel me " (with a little squeeze).
" I suppose you have been poking about with your
charity work in all sorts of stuffy, unwholesome holes
and corners ? "
" No more than usual."
" You know I am satisfied to have you give what we
THE METROPOLITANS 75
can, but not to have you go about taking risks in in
fected places, perhaps. You can send what 's needed."
" You know " (gently) " that 7 s not the same thing."
" Well " (giving up this point for the hundredth time,
and tacking), " you have been keeping too late hours.
Confound this modern mania for turning night into
day ! For fear one should go to bed before sensible
people are taking breakfast, society must now have a
Vaudeville Club ! "
" Papa, you know I have only been to it twice."
She leaned her heavy head on the arm resting on
the chair-back. Was it not there, that second time,
last night, that Allan Rexford had passed her with a
bow, not speaking?
"Then," said her father, briskly, as one who has
gained an argument, " what you need is fresh air and
exercise ; and I want you to promise me that every fine
morning, after this, you will drive to the Park and stay
there an hour. More outdoor life that is what women
need." And with an illustrative wave of his arm to
ward St. George's steeple, he trotted off to the Grolier
there to shut himself in for the rest of the day and
forget his lunch.
Katherine had obeyed him faithfully for a week,
when there came a day which no stretch of imagina
tion could possibly describe as fine. A gray sky, with
the waves in the harbor whipped into little whitecaps
by small sharp gusts ; swirls of wind gathering eddies
of straw and dust and bits of paper at street cor
ners, and impishly scattering them in the eyes of
passers-by ; and a raw chill in the air which had some
mysterious way of penetrating the warmest wraps and
76 THE METROPOLITANS
going straight to the bone. Nature in the Park wore
a frowning and discouraging aspect, which would
hardly have attracted Katherine if she had not been
possessed by a sharp restlessness that would let her
settle to no home occupation. So she drove, as usual,
up the avenue, passing Mortimer van Krippen and
Royall "Worcester and half a score of other dandies
coming down in the latest style of amble, and trying
to look unconscious of the wind's assaults on their tall
hats. A cold mist was thickening the atmosphere
when she reached the Park; she bade the coachman
drive to the Metropolitan Museum, and was soon shut
in behind its portals. There were few if any visitors
this inclement day, and she seemed to have the col
lected treasures of art to herself which might have
satisfied a reasonable art lover who had remembered
to bring her catalogue. But she was conscious of a
feeling of loneliness and depression, and wandered
about aimlessly for a while ; and instead of admiring
in the west gallery the joyous painted nymphs under
which she stood, she began idly scribbling on the edge
of the leaf which described them ; and then, raising
her head, perceived near her a gentleman, his back
turned, who was also writing in a small note-book.
Her heart gave a throb, and at the same instant oh,
wonderful wealth of feminine resource ! her eyes were
at once calmly serene, her slim figure erect in graceful
indifference, and an artistic, unaffected pleasure in the
nymphs overhead seemed to be her dominant feeling.
" Oh good morning," said the young man, turning.
" It is quite a surprise to meet any one here on such
a day. I happen to be tracing a certain artist's works
THE METEOPOLITANS 77
through the galleries for an article. And you, too, are
taking notes? Do you not notice" (coming nearer)
" how depressingly trivial any remark sounds in this
appalling vastuess ? Is it the absence of people, or the
silent presence of all these painted notabilities, or just
that the emptiness makes unusual echoes ? My voice
actually reverberates ; excuse me if I whisper." It was
his old friendly, half -jesting, half -tender accent; for
he was a man and taken unawares by the beloved's
unexpected presence! She softened too; she could
not help it.
" Good morning, Mr. Rexf ord. I fancied until I saw
you that I was monarch of all I surveyed and that
I owned all the pictures."
"And you were criticizing your possessions? Let
me see " (taking the catalogue gently from her hand)
" what you write of the nymphs. Ah, you quote :
Alas ! they heed not what we say ;
They smile with ardor undiminished ;
But we we are not always gay.
"Allow me, Miss de Mansur" (playfully), "to crit
icize your criticism. An art notice should always be
objective never subjective. But you " (changing his
tone) "you are always gay?"
A swift coldness punished his presumption.
" Why should I be always gay ? Is this a world in
which one who thinks or feels can be always gay ? "
" But women most women have so little to trou
"Women most women have so little to distract
them from such trouble as they may have."
78 THE METROPOLITANS
A hasty retrospect of those changeful last weeks,
crowded as they had been with novelty and variety
enough almost to deaden the shock of an unexpected
blow, seemed to confirm the difference she indicated.
"I think," said she, drawing her furs about her
shoulders, " that it grows chillier up here. I must go
down. I always " (with a smile) " visit the mummies
before leaving. They are so fascinating."
" Permit me." He took her hand in his, preceding
her down the stairway. With the touch of her slen
der gloved fingers, the doubts, suspicion, resentment,
everything which had kept him from her, resolved
itself into a sudden determination. " If she is calcu
lating, mercenaiy enough to have changed, I will know
it from herself ! " The hopeful ardor of his young
manhood asserted itself. His eye dwelt on a silken
lock which curled behind her ear; the faint perfume
of some flowers she wore reached him. He looked
down at her tenderly as she kept pace with him. Thej r
walked up and down beside the mummy-cases, abso
lutely alone now, save for a sleepy official, who gave
them an indifferent look and went off to a distant
window, drawn there by a sudden downpour of rain.
Katherine paused beside this case and that, reading
the inscriptions. "'Casket of the Lady Taon-Hor,
from Thebes. A Lady of the House Arshep. Twen
tieth Dynasty before Christ, 1275-1100.' < The Lady
of the House Tsa-isi-emmiu. 7 "
" To think that the silent shell, lying here for curi
ous sight-seers to peer at, should have been, two or
three thousand years ago, a being like ourselves, with
pride and passion and hope and ambition ! Noble she
THE METROPOLITANS 79
was ; young, perhaps, and beautiful ; surrounded with
splendor and adulation. And she might have sent us
to death then for idle speculations about her, which
now she has no power to prevent."
" She she was laid away" (he repeated),
" From the loving light of day
In the early far-off ages, while yet the Sphinx was young ;
And the quiet earth hath kept her
Since they who wailed and wept her
Cried their cry of lamentation in the old Egyptian tongue.
She she has rested well,
For yet a glance can tell
The latest hands that touched her were loving, longing hands.
" Ah," discontinuing, " what were the flatteries and
splendor of the court of Pharaoh, after all, to her, a
human creature ? Mere incidents, as would have been
the coarse garments and reed hut of a Nile fisher's
wife. Nothing counted but the love she felt and re
ceived ! "
" I must go now," she said. The rain dashed against
the window-panes. The sleepy official had probably
gone to sleep in some corner.
"Wait," he urged, "until this shower is over."
They passed through a doorway into the rotunda
near the pictured Emperor Justinian and his council
ors ; and she slipped and struck her wrist sharply on
the iron back of a bench, provoking a little cry. It
was surely not hurt enough to force the tears into her
eyes, one of which fell on her cheek ; and he must have
divined this, for in an instant he held her in his arms
and passionately kissed that tear away.
" Oh, oh ! " she whispered breathlessly, pushing.him
80 THE METROPOLITANS
from her, a wave of crimson dyeing cheek and throat
and little ear.
"I know," he cried, forestalling all reproach, "it
was presumptuous, audacious, and everything wrong !
But, Katherine, there was no need to tell you that I
love you more than life ! Sweetest, loveliest, dearest,
best ! forgive me if I have dared to think you like me
just a little ! "
" You have not hurried to ask," she answered, still
in a whisper, and with an upward misty glance which
made him long to repeat his offense.
" And did you not know why ? " he said impetuously.
"Could I ask your father's daughter to share I
scarcely know what ? For I will not take the mess of
pottage offered in place of my birthright. I have my
own way still to carve, and that is hardly a recom
mendation to a modern father. Katherine, it was
torment enough to keep away and leave the field to
Van Krippens and Worcesters and others not so
handicapped as I."
" Let me see," she said softly, herself again, a little
smile playing about her lips ; " was it of a lady of the
house Arshep or De Mansur that some one said that
nothing in her life counted but the love she received
The purely Arcadian hours of life come seldom
enough ; but when they do they are happily indepen
dent of circumstance. No previous misgivings, nor
chill of surrounding atmosphere, nor the rain that
raineth every day, is allowed to interfere. The living
picture of Love and Youth seen here far excelled any
painted canvas in the hundreds about them. And if
THE METROPOLITANS 81
the Emperor Justinian and his councilors had been
sentient beings, they might, seeing it, have stepped
down from their frame this stormy afternoon, wreathed
their heads with roses, and sung " Carpe diem." As it
was, they were discreetly unobservant. But these
golden moments were winged. The sleepy official
wakened after a while to a sense of duty, shown mainly
by bustling in and out. And it was at last necessary
for Rexf ord to show Katherine into her carriage and
resume his art notes in what was then a mere wilder
nesswith what success Penrose's comment indicated :
"I don't know much about paintings, but it strikes
me, Rexford, these remarks are a little mixed."
Katherine looked radiant enough at dinner to justify
the credit Mr. de Mansur took to himself for his pre
scription. "Nothing like it nothing, I assure you,"
he repeated. " It is what nine out of ten ailing people
need air and exercise air and exercise ! In good
weather, of course not on a day like this, when it
would argue perfect lunacy to take any unnecessary
outing." Katherine laughed; she remembered a
Si t'aimer est folie,
Je serais folle toute la vie.
But she was not yet prepared to confess her lunacy,
and only showed her inner gladness by filial attentions
and caresses, which Cornelius accepted complacently.
And already, in her room that night, the eternal un
dertone of warning came to give pause to her unreck-
oning happiness. A little superstitious chill came over
her once or twice when she thought of her joy com
ing to her so near the coffined lady of the Nile. She
82 THE METROPOLITANS
dreamed of her that night tall, dark, and sad-eyed, in
her Egyptian robes, with a lotus in her hand. And she
said, like Thekla, "I too have lived andloved, and now"
But the sun burst forth next morning, and shone,
as he does shine in New York, with surpassing bril
liancy. He sparkled on the waters of the bay, and
gilded the tall roofs and steeples, and flooded with
light the rooms and the heart of a young woman for
whom that day neither guilt nor poverty nor great
troubles nor petty vexations existed upon the face of
the earth. She walked the avenue with a big dog fol
lowing her, and a rose in her trim coat; and Jack
Doultou-Minton twisted his head to look after her, and
said to a chum :
" By Jove ! old chappy, that woman gets lovelier
every day. She and the new dancer what 's her
name? Jasmina are the greatest beauties in town.
They 're the aborigines no, I don't mean that! the
antipodes of each other."
And Archibald Pundit exclaimed, "Like Aurora,
'pon my honor, Miss Katherine, like Aurora, don't you
know ! " He walked some distance with her, confiding
to her graciously his idea for rescuing Allan Rexford
from the depths to which he must fall. "For, don't
you understand, he 's rather dropped out of our set,
and is bound to lose prestige ; and and from, don't
you know, from lack of association with, ahem ! with
some of us. If he won't take provision amply made
for him, why, don't you perceive, the only thing left
to rescue him from that low lot of musicians and all
he 's fallen in with is a marriage to such an heiress,
say, as your friend, Miss van Krippen. You are so
THE METROPOLITANS 83
sensible, Miss Katherine, I know you catch my idea.
We will talk of it another time."
The next acquaintance to meet her was the very
heiress alluded to ; her little head well up in the air,
a tiny King Charles at her heels, as also the German
teacher (otherwise chaperon), at fifty cents an hour,
who was hardly able to keep up with her.
" Excuse me, fraulein," said Angelica, sweetly, " for
speaking French, as you do not understand it, but Miss
Lavender desires me to practise it whenever I can."
So addressing her friend in a rapid flow of that lan
guage, she told her that she had been yesterday to a
matinee with Miss Lavender. Did n't remember the
play ; it was stupid ; had eaten chocolate caramels until
torpid. "But oh, my dear, the loveliest adventure
afterward ! We went to Del's for an ice ; and such an
interesting young foreigner there assistant cashier,
somebody said. And he came into our room and
picked up my lorgnette, which I let fall, and restored
it with such a bow under her very nose ! And, see
ing her look at programs lying around of an entertain
ment for the Indigent Dyspeptics, he said in the
friendliest way, 'Madame will, perhaps, attend that?
I feel an interest myself, as maybe it is here they will
have acquired the dyspepsia or the indigence.' I ex
pected to see him instantly stiffen into a lifeless heap
under her glacial gaze ; but, instead, he gave me an
other friendly smile and went off."
" Angelica, a strange employee ! "
" My child, foreigners of high rank often fill those
humble positions until their remittances arrive." She
spoke assuredly, as though acquainted herself with
84 THE METROPOLITANS
several continental princes who had, during tempo
rary embarrassment, served in Sherry's or Delmonico's.
" I asked a waiter who the gentleman was, for he cer
tainly looks like a gentleman, and he said his name
was Federling. Now, Katherine, you need not look
shocked. It was amusing to let him do it with Miss
Lavender herself on guard. I like everybody myself
who seems jolly and friendly, and so does papa. I
wonder how he will like to pay fifty cents an hour to
have his daughter tagged after and watched, a thing he
never would do himself ? Miss Lavender will not go to
the Indigent Dyspeptics," she continued ; " but, though
I am not ' out,' she will let me go with Mrs. Crowne
Derby on condition that Morty goes too. That 's be
cause I told her those two Frenchmen whose people she
knows would be there. I am to stay at Mrs. Derby's
all night. Mrs. Crowne Derby is very attentive to me "
(demurely) ; " I don't know why. Dick will be with us,
of course. You come too, Katherine, there 's a love."
Nor would she cease urging, the patient fraulein
waiting, until Katherine consented.
When the Crowne Derby carriage stopped at their
door that night, she ran lightly down their front steps,
to find her way barred for a moment by an organ-
grinder who handed her a paper which said :
This is Gibson. He is deaf and dumb. He has music for a
small compensation. Please help him. He plays these tunes :
" Down on the Suwanee River."
" Old Dan Tucker."
"Run, Nigger, Run."
"Daddy was a butcher, lives up-town."
Please help him.
THE METROPOLITANS 85
She smiled and found a small coin. " Thank you,
Miss de Mansur," said Mortimer van Krippen's voice ;
"this will be a precious souvenir." He whistled for
the organ's owner, who came round the corner and
took his fee for its use. Then Morty was ready to pull
down the collar of his greatcoat and present the
grinder, with slouch hat worn for the occasion, and
remind Dick Crowne Derby that he had won the bet,
which was odds that Miss de Mansur would n't know
him. His sister and Mrs. Derby laughed, but Kathe-
rine's lip curled as she took her place in the carriage.
" If this is all," she thought, " that young men of means
can find to occupy their time, the sooner they are poor
and go to work the better." Perhaps she was think
ing, too, as they rolled along, that to write articles on
music and literature and art generally was even finer,
if possible, by contrast.
And yet there was Jenkins, of whom she had never
heard, who worked at such matters, and, moreover,
gave leisure time unselfishly to making himself absurd
for the benefit of the Indigent Dyspeptics. He was on
the stage when they entered, taking the chief part in a
melodrama which he had also written. Border Eagle
was his name, and he was to be seen in a rocky pass,
breathing hard and overhearing a plot against the
whites between three presumably deaf Shoshone In
dians in the foreground. These three, with a comic
negro and an Irishman, were mixed in inextricable
confusion, the only thing clear to the audience being
that virtue, in the form of Jenkins aided by a six-
shooter and a bowie-knife, was finally successful in
rescuing the heroine from a great variety of assorted
86 THE METROPOLITANS
dangers amid applause and some concealed laughter.
Katherine leaned back with an abstracted smile not,
assuredly, inspired by Jenkins.
The young men jested ; the matron politely veiled
her yawns; Angelica looked about through her lor
gnette for Federling. They lingered when it was over
for the crowd to decrease ; and going out, she actually
saw him. Under this great roof of the Square Garden
there are many festal halls, and into one of these
others, maskers were passing. A Mephistopheles
raised his mask and bowed to Angelica ; and Kath
erine marked the contrast between a diabolic, close-
fitting suit of red and the frank, smiling blue eyes
and blond hair. Angelica, in the amused interest of
this meeting, did not notice that Katherine, as they
next passed a small supper-room leading to the ball
room, gave a quick start. She saw at supper, with
distant strains of music and much jesting, a little
party of merry-makers who had laid aside their masks.
Chief among them was Rexford, beside a woman all
wrapped in black lace, with a face like a flower for
which she vainly searched her memory. She saw Pen-
rose also, whom she knew slightly, before they passed
on ; and answered lightly some remark of Morty van
Krippen's about the group. But she thought : " Was
this the engagement which prevented his coming to
me this evening ? I fancied it was work."
She no longer smiled happily in her dark corner of
the carriage going back.
did not consist with Katherine's ideal of
living to keep secret anything of impor
tance from the father who had been all
the world to her in childhood and young
maidenhood. But it was Rexford who
had said, "A few days or weeks, perhaps, will not
matter, for it to be between just you and me. ' Au
jour le jour,' I am afraid, has been my selfish motto
until now. But I mean to become a combination of
busy bee and miser for the sake of the sweetest eyes
ever were seen. When I have something definite in
view I will speak to your father at once."
This was the next Sunday when he came from
church with her and lunched at their house ; and he
had mentioned the masquerade supper to her in a
large way men have as being " partly business." Mr.
de Mansur accepted his occasional appearance as
placidly as he did most things. He was accustomed
to have young men about his house, whose presence
he affected to consider as due to his own charms.
"Nice, pleasant manners, Rexford," he would say, "like
his father. The other Allan Rexford was a favorite,
too, everywhere ; knew an Elzevir when he saw it, and
played a fair hand at whist. I ; m afraid the mother
has n't treated this lad well."
88 THE METEOPOLITANS
Katherine atoned for her delayed confidence by extra
thoughtfulness for his comfort and an abundance of
caresses, which caused the old gentleman to declare to
two or three present, " I call you to witness, Mr. van
Krippen, Mr. Worcester, gentlemen all, that I will
not do it, whatever it is ; I will not do it ! If you
should ever be heads of families yourselves you would
understand that these alarming accessions of demon
stration on the part of a daughter cover some deep-
laid design on her father's purse or time or both."
He was given these days to many small jests, being
unusually happy in the return of his nephew, Reginald
Crofton, the African explorer. This broad-shouldered
Apollo had brought back with him quite a museum
of skins and assagais and shields, and all sorts of in
teresting barbaric trophies, in which his uncle took
great delight. He was, indeed, so genially interested
and gay that Katherine had a proportionate shock
when he said to her seriously one day, " My dear, I
hate to have to say it of an old friend's son, but I
hear that Allan Rexford is very different from what
he used to be ; has grown wild and reckless, and keeps
company that that would have pained his father very
much. They are saying at the club and everywhere
well, it is not worth while to repeat scandal ; but it
might be better not to have him here often, and not to
hurt his feelings, but to be just a little distant until I
can ascertain more."
Before Katherine collected her ideas to answer he
had gone. She reared her head quite haughtily, being
alone ; a red spot burned on each cheek. " Her Allan !
Scandal-hunters must always have noble game to pur-
THE METEOPOLITANS 89
sue. Papa was not used to listen to them. What an
outrage ! " She went to her own room and looked at
a picture of St. George and the dragon which she had
bought because the warrior saint's face and figure bore
a resemblance to Rexford's. "If the dragon stands
for scandal/' the girl thought proudly, "my knight's
strength and gallantry will keep his shield spotless.
If he still had a fortune, he might be as wicked as
as he is not, and they would think it only amusing ! "
In which she may have been right ; for society dis
plays a truly Christian forbearance toward a sinner
whose millions may endow a church or hospital or
even, with better management, its own daughters.
"Peurose," observed Rexford, the same day, "I
want you to answer me a question quite truthfully."
" As it was in haste that King David proclaimed all
men liars, perhaps I may. But I decline from the first
any of those standard crucial tests of friendship, as to
tell what I think of your looks or your verselets, or
what are your chief faults of character, or what people
say in my hearing about you."
"Try not to be an idiot," said Rexford, gravely.
" What I want seriously to know is this : how do you
think I progress in journalism?"
If Penrose was ever so little discomposed by this
question, he did not show it. "You draw a fair
monthly salary now, do you not? Besides that, a
variable sum for articles for other papers and maga
zines. It is n't often beginners can show as good ac
count as that."
" Yes, I know. That is n't what I 'm asking. With
your experience in newspaper men and things, should
90 THE METROPOLITANS
you think that in the course of a few years I might
hold a fairly high place in the profession be a dis
tinct success, in short ? "
Penrose got up and walked about the little office.
" I don't know why you ask," he said, giving him a
keen look. " At present you are enjoying the inde
pendence dear to every manly being; with the pre
cious certainty of being able, without help from any
one, to keep yourself in bread and butter, not to say
sandwiches and beer."
" I ask because I want to know."
" Well then " (slowly), " since I am bound to contro
vert King David's hasty proposition, I will tell you
that I think you are wasting your time. Your criti
cisms lately always excepting those on music have
had a perfunctory, dilettante ring, as of one not tak
ing himself or his subject or his readers seriously."
Rexford winced visibly. He had asked for truth,
but, being human, it hurt him.
"Mind you," Penrose added, "this is an individual
opinion. No one else has said so. Others may think
you improving." Though Rexford's senior by compar
atively few years, his self-possessed bearing hid now
a pang which a father might feel at wounding a son.
"Is truth-telling to cost me as much as it did Gil
"Indeed, no." Rexford looked up with his own
bright, friendly glance. " Thank you," he added sim
ply. " I feel that you are right ; but what is to be
done ? "
" Do ! why, what you do best, man. A hundred
other fellows could at a pinch turn out just such arti-
THE METROPOLITANS 91
cles as yours, lacking a touch or so. But they could
not write that dainty serenade I heard you humming
when you were dressing; nor that adagio you were
playing last night. They could not set a Hungarian
folk-song to music Jasmina is quite wild about. Mel
ody is your Muse, my lad ! Leave fooling with the
others, and give yourself to her. Come, try your hand
at a light tuneful opera ; and let me write the libretto.
If it 's any good, we have between us influence
enough with the manager."
" Oh ! do you think I really could ? I will begin
right away ! " Hope rekindled in his eyes. His
great opera was already written and a success. He
saw himself in a moment rich again, and famous, and
living with Katherine in a beautiful castle in Spain.
He felt annoyed at sudden roars of laughter from a
neighboring apartment where Jenkins was amusing
his fellow-reporters with a choice story having a cigar-
store Indian for its hero. Then he smiled indulgently.
" Life with that fellow," he observed, " is a mere mat
ter of cakes and ale and a good story. But I must
get to work. I know a motif "
" Yes," said Penrose, dryly. " We, unlike Jenkins,
are philosophers. But I would not begin on a motif,
if I were you, until I had finished that notice of last
Rexford stopped his humming and laughed. He
was proof now against a dash of cold water. He set
tled down to his desk ; but loose sheets of paper were
decorated with a bit of this or that score, as musical
ideas obtruded themselves. He was impatient for
morning to pass, that he might lock himself into his
92 THE METROPOLITANS
room with the piano ; and he sent a second note to
Katherine, saying that something important to
be explained later would prevent his calling that
This would have been unpardonable but for the
fact that the corner-stone he was so eager to lay was
in an edifice to be dedicated to her. Still, it was no
wonder a little creeping doubt presented itself: "An
other masquerade, perhaps." She rejected it with
generous indignation as well as Mr. Pundit's sugges
tive remarks to her father over the card-table: "I
won't say, my dear sir, don't you know, with all re
spect for my noble friend, Lady Mellon, you under
stand, that he was well treated ; but he need not have
taken to such wild courses, don't you comprehend.
Walking in broad daylight with actors and reporters
and such people, whom his friends must pretend not
to see, don't you know. And then" his voice lowered
until several words were indistinguishable. Then,
louder : " Roulette, I am told, every night. Manipu
lates the wheel herself ! Yes, it 's a pity, don't you
know, quite a pity. They say, by the way, that Lady
Mellon is having some trouble with his lordship. I
never believe all that gossip about a nobleman. It 's
just sheer envy, don't you understand."
She should not have heard this, which was not for
her, but ought to have been listening instead to her
cousin, who had allowed nothing to interfere with his
call, and was giving herself and a few others an im
promptu lecture on Zululand, stimulated into elo
quence by feeling her eyes upon him.
" If I were you," said Angelica van Krippen later,
THE METROPOLITANS 93
up in her room (she had come to spend the night), " I
should immediately lose my heart to Mr. Crofton.
Though I should be sorry for Morty ! Morty will not
commit suicide, however, no matter how badly you
treat him. He is more likely to die at the hands of
papa when that dear man finds out about Otto." She
cast down her eyes and gave a well-executed sigh.
" Mr. Federling, you know."
11 That man again ? O Angelica ! "
"My dear, no one alive shall marry me for my
money if I can prevent it. And whether I am brought
out here, with Miss Lavender, Mr. Pundit, and all the
Patriarchs superintending, or mamma arranges a
European match for me over yonder, it is all one ; my
value in cash will be trumpeted. You may not have
suspected me of romance, but I am papa's daughter-
poor dear papa ! with his ' Children of the Abbey.' I
mean to marry for love or not at all ! " This warlike
declaration was in her usual thin, sweet tones, and
her eyes looked childlike clear at Katherine without
"But, Angelica, a stranger, a foreigner, utterly
unknown, in such a position. It is, of course, some
adventurer taking advantage of your imprudence."
" Not at all " (triumphantly). " I know plenty about
him already. He has told me himself, and I believed
him. Perhaps you think, Katherine" (flushing pink
under her transparent skin), " that, from my antece
dents, I cannot always tell a gentleman, but I can.
However, I prudently asked Morty to investigate, as
though it were for a possible German teacher for Miss
94 THE METROPOLITANS
Lavender, and it was all right. My dear, he is really
Von Federling, and a baron, but poor as any barn
yard fowl Job ever had before the neighbors stole
them. And he was a student at Heidelberg, and then
in the army for the usual time ; and has a little crooked
scar he got in a duel just under his front hair, and he
is so proud of it ; I don't know why, for it would have
shown more sense to have kept out of fights. But the
family estate was small, and the daughters have to be
provided for ; he is the youngest of eleven ; the others
are all girls ; so you can't blame a poor man with ten
sisters for coming over to America to try his luck.
He hoped for a professorship or something like that,
for he is scientific and speaks several languages ; but,
knowing no one, he did anything he could find to do,
and was glad enough to get that place at Del's. Find
ing out about the title was just accidental, for he has
too much sense to use it now. But he is delightfully
sentimental, and quotes yards of poetry, which makes
" Was it through Mortimer you found out that this
was all true ? "
" That is the cream of the affair. Morty had no
trouble in getting at a lot about him, and was on the
point of imparting it to Miss Lavender, as per request,
when I diverted her attention. But I was walking in
the Park with Fraulein Volmer, the day after the In
digent Dyspeptics' benefit (I always like her for chape
ron ; she is even more stupid than she looks), when
who should appear but Mephisto of the night before.
Did n't he look delightfully absurd in that satanic
dress, with his curly blond mustache and round rosy
THE METROPOLITANS 95
cheeks ! He raised his hat to me, then looked at her
and stopped. ' Ach, Gott ! ' she cried, or something to
that effect. ' Is it thou, dear Baron Otto ? ' And it
turned out that the fraulein had been governess to
half a dozen of his sisters in their beloved native vil
lage with the unpronounceable name on the Rhine.
So he stayed and talked with us for a while. She has
prosed to me before by the hour at fifty cents of
her past life, and I never listened, for, though I be
lieved her to be truthful, I knew her to be debilitat
ing. But now I make her tell me all about Otto and
Castle Schlippenschloppenschlanberg it 's something
like that ! If Miss Lavender's policy with her teachers
were not so sternly repressive, if she were not a glacier
to attempted confidences, the simple soul would tell
her too, and all would be lost ! As it is, the fraulein
treats herself to this little revival of home associations
without imagining my special interest. And oh,
Katherine, what fun to lunch at Del's with Miss Lav
ender, and smile at Otto under her nose while she
studies the menu with severe propriety ! "
Miss van Krippen paused for breath, and Katherine
had a chance to ask, " But if your brother discovered
nothing to this this gentleman's discredit, and he is
of good birth and education, why not tell Mortimer ?
Why not write of him to your parents, and have him
visit you ? "
" Katherine de Mansur ! Have you ever met mam
ma? No, I thought not! When she takes me out
of Miss Lavender's and puts poor little Anastelle in
my place, her plans for me will be fixed, and not in
connection with a disinterested affection."
96 THE METROPOLITANS
Katherine could not forbear an expressive look.
"You wonder," cried her friend, " how with a poor
man I can be sure he is disinterested ! Why, he does
not know my name, even. The fraulein calls me An
gelica, and I told him it was Cripps. O Katherine,
you must know Otto sometime. He is quite learned
too, but very fond of sweets, and always keeps bon
bons about him and treats the fraulein and me. And
she eats them and weeps when he quotes German
poetry. You should hear him tell of a friend of his
at home who was dying of love for a girl, and there
was a favored rival whom he hated. And he came to
Otto and said he could bear to give her up to a friend,
but not to an enemy, and begged Otto to be presented
to her, make love, win her perhaps. At his friend's
sighs and groans of despair Otto consented and met
the lady. She made no impression on a heart reserved
for me, and he was obliged to tell his almost frenzied
friend, who thought of suicide, but went away instead
to practise microscopy at Stockholm. Otto asked me
if it was not a touching poem ; and when I inquired if
during that time his friend refrained from potato
salad, or was noticeably moderate in the matter of
beer, he looked at me so reproachfully that that
her voice died away into what the poet Keats is
pleased to call " a slumbrous tenderness."
But Katherine lay awake a long time afterward,
speedily forgetting about Otto to wonder what Mr.
Pundit's unheard remarks had been, and why he
should wish to malign her Allan; and, subcon
sciously, to let her mind misgive her as to what un-
imagined recklessness might keep the latter from her.
THE METEOPOLITANS 97
He was blamelessly occupied, at the time, looking at
the same stars through his window in a mood of ela
tion, for the plot of the opera was well under way be
tween the chief conspirators, and he was planning,
incidentally, a sonnet to her as his inspiration.
I HE approved of his absence; she ap
proved of this new work which had de
tained him; in fine, she approved of
him, smiling with sweet, clear, inter
ested eyes, bright with sympathy,
across her little tea-table the next afternoon, when
fate favored them with a half -hour together.
"Penrose," he told her, "my collaborator, just
sketched off the plot of the book in no time. I told
him it was impossibly sensational. He said nothing
was impossible in life ; everything could happen and
did, sometimes ; that these incidents had actually oc
curred. So this is the way it is to be. Zora is the
Hungarian girl; has two lovers, and is in love with
the poor one. Her father, favoring the rich suitor,
suggests that the field will be clear for him if he con
trives to get the other out of the way. The rich
farmer manages this, and the girl, thinking herself
deserted by the other, accepts his attentions. At the
wedding the groom, drinking healths until he loses all
prudence, boasts in her hearing that he has killed his
rival. She seizes a knife from the table and springs
toward him ; her father checks her, rushing between,
whereupon she kills herself. At this sight the father,
THE METEOPOLITANS 99
frenzied, shoots the farmer, who falls dead just as the
other suitor appears to hear her dying words, and ex
plain, as well as horror will permit, that no violence
had been used to send him to a distance, as the farmer
had falsely and foolishly declared, but just a lengthy
business errand invented for that purpose."
" And what becomes of him ? "
" That we have not settled. As a matter of fact,
Penrose says, he became a member of the village
band, and did very well until an attack of measles
carried him off. But that would hardly do."
" Certainly not ! Why not have him die of grief ? "
" He would have to expire to the very slowest music
composer ever wrote. There is a further complication
in the opera, in the shape of the great lady of the vil
lage, who takes a fancy to his fine eyes. We might
manage his end well, that will arrange itself. It is
not so hard as you might think. There are some de
lightful chances for melody at the plaza, with the rivals
and the love-scenes and the wedding, with Hungarian
bride-song and choruses." He passed into the music-
room through the archway. "Listen, now; this is
the air Manuel sings under her window." A few bars
were played and sung. " Now this " (with a crash of
chords and a descent into the bass, changing the key)
" is where the father and farmer are plotting to be rid
of Manuel. Now then, this little minor is always to
be played when Zora is coming. Do you like it ?
Katherine" (he came back, his eyes aflame), " I mean
to work day and night until it is finished. If it is a
success Penrose encourages me I need not wait any
longer to ask your father ! " She made a little barri-
100 THE METROPOLITANS
cade of the tea equipage between them, which he en
compassed in a moment. "Do not insult me with
offers of more tea ! " he cried, " and as for sweets"
Then, whatever delight he had promised himself when
he went on one knee beside her low chair was post
poned, as callers entered, and he was on his feet
again, saying, with rare presence of mind, " There is
your pretty cup quite safe ; I think I rescued it very
cleverly ! "
Miss Lavender's unpremeditated interruption hardly
justified the instant wild hatred he felt, though her ex
cessively cold greeting might have excited his wonder
if he had noticed it, and if Angelica van Krippen had
not taken it on herself to supply all missing cordiality.
Miss Lavender, deceived by Katherine's look of inter
est, began to murmur into her ear further confidences
connected with the scandalous treatment accorded by
the very unparliamentary Provincial Matrons to a de
scendant, collaterally, of Poor Richard. " They will
regret it, I fancy, when they find themselves in court.
If Franklin Hall needed an advertisement," added the
business woman, " it would have it just through Mrs.
Doulton-Minton's machinations against its principal ! "
She shrugged her thin shoulders. " As it is, my dear,
applications come in shoals; especially since De
Vaurien and Mauvais Sujet are so constantly at my
Wednesdays. And my friend and ex-pupil, the mar
quis's aunt by marriage, writes me the sweetest letters
in praise of these young noblemen. With domestic
anxieties of her own, as I hear, it is charming in her
to take such unselfish interest in others."
"Devilish unselfish," said Mortimer, in an aside,
THE METROPOLITANS 101
closing the eye near Rexford ; " like the interest the
fox, once caught in a trap, took in his fellows' brushes.
Oh, say, you 're not going yet ! A chap never gets a
chance to talk to you now, you 're running so much
with Penrose and that lot. Saw him at a supper the
other night Harvard foot-ball team. Good spread,
too and he called me Dugald Dalgetty. Who 's
Dalgetty, anyhow ? I don't believe I 've ever met him.
Say " (in a whisper), " I hear you 've had better luck
with the Jasmina than I did. Did n't seem to like me ;
shows her bad taste ! " The good-natured little fellow
grinned. " Well, if you mil go ! "
Though Rexford was in too exalted a state of mind
to perceive that Morty's friendliness was not shared
by Katherine's cousin, now mounting guard at the
tea-table, still he did not fancy seeing him and half a
dozen of the unemployed rich keeping him from her ;
so presently he took his leave.
" Of course," said Miss Lavender to Archibald Pun
dit, " that young man is out of the question, matrimo
nially. I have given that hint to my girls, in case
they meet him anywhere. The fact that he has noth
ing forces me, in spite of my respect for Lord and
Lady Mellon, to frown on on such goings on as have
been hinted to me. If he had De Vaurien's rank or
Royall Worcester's money it would be different. A
few eccentricities might easily be overlooked. But
as it is"
" My dear lady," Mr. Pundit answered, with a pon
derous sigh, "I am afraid you are right. I have
written his mother to the effect that I have been able
to do nothing as regards Miss van Krippen, don't you
102 THE METROPOLITANS
know. In fact, I hardly ever see him now, and I fear
that if his dissipation and low associations continue,
society will have to cut him entirely, you understand."
He drew his portly figure up and straightened his
shoulders to show how society looked at times.
" Miss van Krippen," said Miss Lavender, " is quite
young yet, and until her parents approve, no match
will be arranged positively for her. My girls are
brought up, you know, quite on the European plan.
No reckless, ill-regulated American independence.
They are, I flatter myself, better guarded and chap
eroned than any in New York. They have hardly a
thought without my supervision."
Archibald Pundit's eyes gleamed as he reflected how
handsomely this watchfulness at Franklin Hall was
paid for. Their tea-cups drew closer together as their
voices sank to a confidential undertone.
The weeks following this were a rush of work and
excitement to Rexford. He furnished only musical
reviews to the "Argus" now, the rest of his time
being given to composing, polishing, altering, trans
posing melodies and harmonies, as the words and situ
ations in "Zora" necessitated. Jenkins, though a
melomaniac himself, threatened to leave " Simla " per
manently. "After all, however," he relented, "it is,
to quote the famous Frenchman, a not disagreeable
noise ; and you would fail if I left you, for I know I
am your inspiration." He was more or less useful as
a lay-figure, to be hustled and poked into corners as
points in the play needed illustration, or to hum an
occasional falsetto in the part of the cold and haughty
soprano. The kindly fellow was as eager for Eex-
THE METROPOLITANS 103
ford's success as could be, and when the work was
finally in a friendly manager's hands, he was secretly
as anxious for good news as the collaborators them
And if in all this hurry and pressure and absorption
the hours with Katherine were few, they were all the
sweeter, and their infrequency was generously over
looked by her for the cause. It was to her that the
tidings of an acceptance first came, the note buried
in flowers; and her congratulations were the first he
received. "Now, dear, my life, my love," he wrote,
"if it only proves a success, I can tell your father
boldly that I am able to take care of the dearest and
sweetest" and all the rest of the lover's little phrases.
Her heart sang within her, and when they dined out
that night, she smiled with equal indulgence on Morty's
little stories and her cousin's devotion, and even Mr.
Pundit's struggles when he stuck on " conversation's
burs." It was over the coffee that some one mentioned
the forthcoming opera by Rexford and Peurose.
" Penrose ! " repeated Mr. Pundit, contemptuously,
" that 's natural enough. But for Allan Rexford son
of one of ourselves, don't you know to run to music,
in company with that sort of person ! It quite stupe
fies me, don't you understand."
" Oh, is it that, Mr. Pundit ? " Katherine asked, with
dangerous sweetness. "I did not know the cause.
And why should he not?"
" To please his friends, a little song now and then,
very well, don't you perceive. But not for money"
" There are so many easier and meaner things he
may do for money," Katherine began, with a fire which
104 THE METROPOLITANS
made her father look at her in mild surprise. Some
of the younger men fell to discussing the probable
dramatis personee to be selected by Menu, the mana
ger, and the authors.
" Only one I 've heard of," drawled Crowne Derby,
" is Jasmin a."
" It is n't a ballet, my dear fellow."
"N-no. Dancing enough in it, though, I hear.
Principal part 's a contralto or mezzo-soprano. Didn't
even know she sang, 'pon my honor."
"Rexford did, evidently," said Royall Worcester.
The u miching mallecho " of this remark was not lost
on Katherine, who listened, however, with a lady's
"What you don't know, my dear fellow," chirped
Morty, with cheerful impertinence, "would fill vol
umes." He was aware that Crowne Derby as well as
himself had failed to find favor in Jasmina's lovely
If, after the women had withdrawn, the men's talk
over their wine was quite damnatory in its entire
tolerance of Rexford's late reckless and daring follies,
most of them apocryphal, Morty's friendly and uneasy
protests and Crofton's fastidious withdrawal with his
uncle from the conversation made very little differ
It made very little difference, Rexford himself would
have thought, as he went hither and thither and inter
viewed manager and underlings, and arranged and
rearranged scores, and approved or objected to those
assigned to certain roles, and attended rehearsals, and
had his soul vexed within him by stupidities and ob-
THE METROPOLITANS 105
stinacies and delays and disappointments innumerable.
The only one who gave him no trouble, whose part
fitted her as though it were herself, who sang perfectly
without any apparent practice, who danced as no one
else could, who seemed almost to carry the opera
through triumphantly by herself, was Jasmina. And
he would never have thought of her if Penrose had not
said negligently :
" You will find Zom's part difficult to fill. She must
dance as well as she sings. If Jasmina were willing,
now ; you have heard her hum a little, but perhaps you
do not know she is a graduate of the Paris Conserva
tory, and did not go on the operatic stage simply be
cause she has a wild fancy for only singing when she
chooses like a bird, she says."
It came into Rexford's mind to wonder, as several
times before, when Penrose, in his vagrant career, had
come across Jasmina ; but that was not his present
concern, which was to find a Zora satisfactory to M.
Menu and himself.
" But, certainly," she said, " I will be Zora if I can.
I must have a part in your success."
" But your contract with the manager of the Rose-
" That is nothing " (gaily) ; " I will break it. I have
done that before. It is only a money forfeit."
He had no further scruples after seeing her in the
part. She was the pivot on which all turned. And
besides, meeting her at the daily rehearsals, what more
natural than that he should drop in at her pretty
apartment afternoon or evening, to consult, to advise,
to talk over this or that connected with the affair of
106 THE METROPOLITANS
paramount interest? She had a gift for soothing,
encouraging, cheering, beyond, he thought, and re
proached himself for thinking, any woman he knew.
" Jasmiua," said Penrose, casually, " is, I need hardly
say, no ordinary variety actress ; with youth, beauty,
fascination, and her profession hardly ever goes such
savage rectitude as hers. When merely a child she
was married to a sort of brute ; but in a short while
the man one of her own people died. I do not
know " (slowly) " that the code of her race, morally, is
high; but she is untamable as a wild lark, and has
never cared for any one before."
Rexford did not remark this "before"; he was
humming under his breath a passage which did not
quite go to please him. In the mean time his name,
neglected in brilliant circles for a while, was once
more a topic of interest in clubs. Various pranks of
the utmost recklessness were attributed to him. While
Mr. Pundit frowned and Cornelius de Mansur looked
grave, and club-men jested and dandies admired,
Katherine was forced in many a great lady's room to
listen to a thousand stories which derived their pic-
turesqueness mainly from the fact of truth's abashed
withdrawal to her well. When she hinted to her lover
that he was ill spoken of, he only laughed. " Dearest
love," he protested lightly, "what do these people
matter to us ? I am no such roaring, ranting blade.
All my world is full of melody just now." He wished
to speak to her father after the hoped-for success.
And the latter, after securing, as a sort of duty to an
old friend's son, a box for the first night of "Zora,"
commented thus :
THE METROPOLITANS 107
"I hope the young man's artistic career may be
prosperous, I am sure ; but I am glad you have taken
my suggestion, and that he comes but seldom now.
The sooner we sever the acquaintance the better."
"Papa, you you did not use to listen to scandal.
I I like Mr. Rexford."
" My information about him seemed reliable," said
the old man ; but he spoke wearily and with a certain
lack of interest which made a new anxiety check the
rush of words to his daughter's lips. Cornelius's
strength had seemed suddenly to lessen lately, per
haps from persistent burrowing in dark, ill- ventilated
library rooms. Katherine teased him lovingly about
not using the remedies of air and exercise which he
urged on others, and the doctor ordered gentle horse
back riding. But, with some jesting excuse as to his
claim to the title of " Old-Man- Afraid-of-his-Horse,"
he drifted on from day to day in his long-settled habits.
VEN the society maids and matrons who
had cherished a double grudge against
Rexford first, that he should, though
innocently, have so suddenly lost prestige
as a matrimonial prize; next, that he
should have carelessly dropped them before they had
a chance to drop him felt a keenly curious interest
in " Allan Rexf ord's opera." Of his songs old rhymes
set to melodious strains several were already much
liked among music-lovers ; and his " Go, Lovely Rose,"
especially was widely popular. Hosts of his parents'
friends came, even from semi-retirement, to judge of
his work ; old acquaintances of his own dropped in by
scores ; club-men galore, whose recent much-relished
stories of his wild excesses and extravagances were a
distinct advertisement, in their way. When to these
were added the usual first-nighters, the critics, the
general public, wrought up to intense anticipatory in
terest by judicious manipulation of the " Argus " and
other allied powers, a house greeted the raising of the
curtain on the first act of " Zora " which, in point of
numbers, was encouraging to behold. The composer
sat well out of sight, in a proscenium-box, with curtains
half drawn, and with him Penrose, whose perfect cool-
THE METROPOLITANS 109
ness contrasted with his own repressed excitement.
The first scene showed the pains, never spared in
modern days, to secure an exact reproduction of the
picturesque mountain village. The overture and open
ing chorus of villagers had been received with an ac
claim which sounded perfunctory; the duo between
the rich farmer and Zom's father with something like
apathy or so it seemed to the author, to whom Pen-
rose's confidence should have been reassuring, as well
as the buoyant hopefulness of Jenkins, who sat with
them by special request of Rexf ord, and was immensely
pleased at the compliment.
" I wish they 'd quit that harmonious wrangling,"
the latter said, " and let Zora come on."
Peurose said nothing, being busy surveying the
house unconcernedly through his glass. He noted the
crowds of gilded youth, some of whom requested ad
mission to their box, which the ushers were strictly
directed to refuse. He had seen Miss de Mansur be
fore Rexf ord perceived her, surrounded by father and
friends ; he had even remarked a blond foreigner near
the De Mansur box, who looked often at Miss van
Krippen and whose face somehow seemed familiar,
though he did not_connect him with the famous res
taurant. Mortimer had obtained from Miss Lavender
permission for Angelica's presence, "though a little
irregular before her coming out," on the principal's
being told that De Vaurien and Mauvais Sujet would
also be there. Among the literary and artistic sets
Penrose's glance found numbers known to him pro
fessionally; for of social life outside the Chimes
this busy, absorbed man permitted himself little. It
110 THE METEOPOLITANS
rested longest, however, returning again and again,
upon Katherine, whose shining brown eyes and deli
cate tints showed nothing of the eager interest she felt.
" These daughters of the gods," he thought, " they
are so fair. But have they hearts? Now, nry poor
Jasmina ! " There was a sudden clash of cymbals.
" There goes that minor. She 7 s coming ! " muttered
Jenkins. And slowly, out from the dusk shades of
the forest where she had been straying with the min
strel lover, came Zora, a glowing vision.
Even to Rexf ord, who knew her beauty, this seemed
something new. Guessing the cause of her father's
difference with the rich villager, she advances, glides
from recitation into song, argues, persuades, entreats,
cajoles. The first outbreak of spontaneous applause
shook the house, and was stilled again as she and
the farmer sang together, with occasional foreboding
strains from Manuel, already jealous. Then, with a
passionate glance for him, and waving her graceful
arms to all, "Come," she sings, "we celebrate the treaty.
Are we not all Hungarians? A czardas come !"
Night has crept on, the camp-fires are lit, old crones
hang the pots over the blaze ; but a space is cleared,
the depths of the forest are lit up with torches kindled
at the glowing embers, and the swarthy musicians of
the tribe group themselves at one side, with cymbals
and tambourines. " Come ! " cries Zora, marking time
with her castanets. They dance the czardas to a
measure of broken, barbaric rhythm and wild melody,
slow to dreaminess at first.
" That is fine, very fine," said Penrose ; " that air 'a
THE METROPOLITANS 111
Rexford himself leaned forward with quickened
pulse as Zora bent and swayed to the music, which
went fast and faster and still faster, to giddiness.
" If they don't rise to that ! " said Jenkins. But
they did, almost literally. The silence which held
them during the first fascinating bars gave way to
tumultuous admiration of the odd, bewildering Gipsy
melody. Before the last note sounded roars of applause
went up, echoed and reechoed. It must be played, it
must be danced, every b^r, again. Rexford leaned
back, contented. Penrose said quietly, "We 're all
right now." Jenkins beat time softly on the cushioned
ledge, a broad grin expanding his features. From
that time there was hardly a moment's surcease of
enthusiasm. Through the scene of the great lady's
advances to Manuel, his serenade under the castle
wall, the tuneful duets of love and jealousy, Gipsy
dances, and Zortfs fortune-telling, the father and rich
rival's plotting, the joyful trumpet tones of the wed
ding music, and the plaintive strains of the tragic
end, went outbursts of appreciation. Zora and the
tenor were recalled again and again after each scene,
and showered with tribute blossoms. When the cur
tain went down finally, there were loud cries of " Au
thor ! author ! " The manager came bustling in to
know why no one responded, but found only Penrose,
who positively refused to do more than bow from the
front of the box. " Rexford ! Rexford ! " the cry in
creased in volume. He had stepped round to the
wings for a moment to thank Jasmina for her share
in his success. Her eyes glowed under their dark
fringes ; she held, of all her flowers, only the bunch
112 THE METROPOLITANS
of red roses he had sent her. " Come on ! come on ! "
cried M. Menu ; " don't you hear them ? " She took
his hand in her little brown one, and drew Mm on
before the lights until they stood there together.
" A deuced handsome pair," said Royall Worcester,
in the De Mansur box.
"A perfectly lovely opera," chattered Angelica,
mechanically, intent on seeing what had become of
Federling. Their party moved slowly outward, and
Katherine heard some one in the throng remark, " The
little dancer 's bound in decency to help him with his
opera, if it 's only to pay back what she wins from
him every night at roulette."
And Jasmina, in her dressing-room, was talking to
Penrose and Rexf ord. " It is a success ! " she kept
repeating exultantly. She laid both hands on the
younger man's shoulders. " Thank you so much for
letting me sing dance the beautiful part! I am
wild, intoxicated ! I shall not sleep for a week ! You
will both come to supper? for us to congratulate
" Certainly," Rexford replied, radiant. " I will follow
you." He ran round to the front entrance ; he hoped
for a word with Katherine, but she was gone, and his
triumph lacked the one little touch which most earthly
triumphs do to make them happiness.
When Cornelius de Mansur and his daughter reached
home that night he drew her into the library, where
only a shaded lamp still burned and the open fire sent
a rosy glow about.
" I was glad of to-night's success," he said thought
fully ; " work may still be that young fellow's salvation
THE METROPOLITANS 113
and I was fond of his father. I am not very harsh,
I hope " (gently stroking her head at his knee), " but
there is too much leniency shown to what they euphe
mistically call the sowing of wild oats. There is high
authority for saying, ' Be not deceived ; what things a
man shall sow, those also shall he reap ' ! "
" But we need not believe all we hear," said Kathe-
rine, " and every one is entitled to his defense." She
had risen, and stood with an arm around his neck;
then added bravely, despite a sudden vision presenting
itself of her lover standing at the footlights beside that
beautiful creature, " You will give Mr. Rexf ord a hear
ing when he comes to you, papa ? "
He looked up at her, mystified, and she saw that his
face was drawn and weary. " I wish you would get
me a glass of wine," he said, in a tired way. She went
quickly and brought him this refreshment. He sipped
it absently. " What was it I was saying ? Oh, yes ;
I like the rest of that : ' And in doing good let us not
fail : for in due time we shall reap, not failing.' Go
to bed now, my darling ; it is late, and I still have a
note to write."
After a tender good night she turned at the door
to look again at his beloved gray head bending over
the writing-table. Here was affection, sure, unselfish,
lavish, hers beyond a doubt hers since she could re
member, with no shadow of uncertainty or misgiving.
She could not resist turning back to give him another
embrace. He smiled up at her. His color was
brighter, the wine having dispelled the look of ex
haustion which had before distressed her; and she
went away, hoping all things of the morrow.
114 THE METROPOLITANS
And, while the first sparrows were twittering on the
bare boughs of the trees in the square and slanting
sun-rays gilded the steeple of St. George's, a maid with
frightened face came knocking at her door ; the butler
must see her immediately. In wrapper and slippers
she confronted him, with the group of domestics hud
dled about him in the upper hall. The old man ex
plained, as well as his stammering tongue would let
him, that his master was ill very ill. When he had
gone, as usual, to open the library, he had stumbled
over Mr. de Mansur's prostrate form between the fire
place and writing-desk, where he must have lain all
night. They had carried him to his room, and the
doctor was sent for ; " and, dear Miss Katherine " (as
she would have hurried past him), " he will not know
He did not know her or any one, but lay breathing
heavily. The doctor's face held no encouragement
after his careful examination. " He may recover con
sciousness," he said, " after a while." In view of which
event a priest of the church of which Cornelius de
Mansur was a devoted adherent was at his side when
his eyelids were first raised to show awakening intel
ligence. A little while with him, the last rites admin
istered, and the gentle old man whispered brokenly to
his darling, "My Katherine be good, as you have
been, and I leave you in His care ;" then lapsed into
a silence henceforth unbroken. The letter which he
had sat up to write was to Reginald Crofton's mother,
his only sister, written, in view of his late uncertain
health, to commend his child to her tenderness. She
was at a distance, but came hurrying by train when
THE METROPOLITANS 115
he was gone. Her son was here, but could not see
Katherine yet awhile ; no one could see her not even
Allan Rexford, shocked unspeakably by the news
awaiting him at her threshold when he presented him
self there. It was much later than he had meant to
come, but one does not bring out a first opera every
night ; not every night, either, was Jasmina just so
proudly joyful. Then, though she had always the
voice of scandal notwithstanding withheld him, with
a thousand pretty arts, from roulette, this night she
laughingly challenged him to try his luck, saying that
fortune smiled upon him. It seemed so, for, with her
at his elbow, he won and won again ; and it was quite
morning before he turned in to his room ; the newsboys
were already shouting, his name was prominently dis
played in the papers, and his opera was soon a topic
at hundreds of breakfast-tables. And it was at about
this hour that Cornelius de Mansur's man, horror-
struck, was gently raising the unconscious gray head
of his master.
Rexford called, morning and afternoon, for three or
four days after this, at the closed De Mansur house ;
to have his flowers taken by servants ; to suffer a pang
of envy in seeing Reginald Crofton performing all
needful offices as the dead man's son ; to leave a note
of passionate sympathy for Katherine, passed into the
darkened room where she and Sorrow sat, answered
by a faint, penciled line: "I cannot answer. You
must wait." Learning that the interment was delayed
some days for the expected arrival of Mrs. Crofton, he
arranged with Penrose to run over to a neighboring
city to arrange for the production of "Zora" there;
116 THE METROPOLITANS
aud, the manager detaining him for one reason or an
other, ill fate decreed that the funeral took place before
his return. On a very cold, clear, bright day the shell
of Cornelius de Mansur, from which the animula, va-
gula, llandula had flown, was laid away with the ele
ments to which it belonged. And the honor, love, and
troops of friends which should accompany old age went
with him so far, but could not go one step farther.
And religion, in the person of her white-robed priest,
stood near him, believing and hoping all things, but
humbly confessing that from this side of the grave
she saw but through a glass, darkly. And the poor
and the aged and the friendless to whom he had been
a friend stood about and prayed with tears that in
that hereafter in which would be no sun nor moon nor
stars there would also be no pang of severed hearts,
nor the bitterness of disillusions or disappointed hopes
from which the dead, being human, must have suffered.
And Penrose's set f eatures confessed nothing of fulfilled
desires, nor yet of failures, as he noted the absence of
the slim figure of the dead man's daughter ; and, again,
the striking contrast with the character of the scene
which his nephew's stalwart form made, the very in
carnation of strength and life and vigorous young
manhood, standing by the grave with uncovered head,
while the cold wind blew the thick- waved locks about
his bronzed forehead.
And Katherine, at home, endured her first stroke
from him who has been called the best of man's
friends. But he wears a grisly front and tears asun
der with relentless hand those who would fain cling
together a little longer, and it is easy to mistake him
THE METROPOLITANS 117
for a cruel enemy. Of the one who should have stayed
her sinking spirit there was no present sign or token.
For her aunt, in affectionate attempt to screen the
suffering girl, mentioned no visitors' names to her,
receiving all herself j and likewise answered all notes
and letters now. Among these was one from Archi
bald Pundit, absent when his friend was taken :
" The vacation which I needed sorely from the strain
of constant social leadership has been restful and most
interesting. But the intelligence of the death of Cor
nelius de Mansur, devoted father, polished gentleman,
and trusted friend, comes to me with a thrilling ten
derness, and has saddened my heart. Beloved by
every one for his manly virtues, as well as for the
noblest graces of head and heart, his loss to society is
irreparable. In his death has society sustained its
first decisive blow this winter. Always on the right
side, he aided, by his conservatism, to still the angry
waters of debate, thus imparting strength and dignity
to argument. It will be long before we look upon his
like again. I am pained beyond expression at my en
forced absence from New York at such a time. What
a denial not to have had the mournful privilege of
joining hands with you at his open grave, and min
gling my tears, hot tears, with yours at that sacred spot !
A mysterious Providence has willed otherwise, yet He
doeth all things well. I trust, however, to be with
you ere long, and then in fitting terms to speak to
you of the merit of my treasured friend in a way that
my overburdened heart will not permit now. In all
sincerity and esteem, I beg leave to remain, yours de
118 THE METROPOLITANS
"He means well," said Mrs. Crofton to her son,
" but until our Katherine is stronger I am glad to save
her from these letters."
"It is very kind in him to patronize Providence,"
said Reginald, dryly, who did not admire Mr. Pundit,
" but he is a platitudinous ass, all the same." Which
opinion, as we know, was shared by Miss van Krip-
pen and others. The young man was not as much
softened as his mother by their common grief. When
she commented on the sincere feeling shown by young
Rexford at his call, when only she had seen him, he
remarked that Mr. Rexford had absented himself from
the funeral of his father's friend, and that, since his
disappointment about his father's fortune, he had
rather taken to wildness and kept all sorts of company
and hours, and was an undesirable visitor. He was
exceptional himself in withstanding the temptation
which wealth and leisure bring with them, devoting
much time and money to scientific research and ex
ploration; but this superiority had the unfortunate
effect of making him harsh in judgment. He would
gladly, in going from Jerusalem to Jericho, have paid
the wounded man's bill at the inn ; but he would not
himself have tended him, for fear the wounds had
been received in some discreditable affray.
When, after a month's seclusion, Katherine came
out into the family circle so different, alas ! and yet
with echoes everywhere of the dear lost voice telling
her to lift up her eyes and live her life, as she must,
courageously he strove, with his mother, to interest
her. But he talked mainly, and well, of travel by
land and sea, and not of the matter nearer home of
THE METEOPOLITANS 119
which she longed to hear. He did once mention,
with a slight lifting of the brow, the marvelous popu
larity of " Zora," and that Rexford had been, on such
a date, to arrange for its production elsewhere. And
it came to Katherine, with a shock, that that was the
time of her father's funeral.
iHEN Penrose first came to New York he
had chanced into a stationer and en
graver's in Sixth Avenue to have some
repairing done. It was not a large
shop, but handsome and tasteful in all
its appointments, and the proprietor, an elderly man
with fine and delicate features, old-fashioned courtesy
of manner, and a pleasant old-world bur in his speech
that appealed favorably to the Welshman, served him
in person. The order filled, Penrose would have
thought of it no more, but, happening to be in that
quarter a year or two later and needing more of the
same work, he looked for the sign and missed it.
Trusting to an excellent memory for locality, he went
in where he thought the engraver had been ; and, be
hold, he was still there, but with his sign in a quiet
corner, and a bookseller's name and wares occupying
the space which had formerly been his. He came
forward with just the same manner and gentle sim
plicity as of old ; but his delicate features and frame
were thinner, and his clothing, though scrupulously
neat, bore marks of long and conscientious brushing.
There was a certain patient dignity in his quietude
which would have curbed a stranger's curiosity; but
THE METEOPOLITANS 121
when out again on the sidewalk Penrose, an experi
enced observer, thought, " Ah, I know that look; it is
written all over him. The hurts which weaklings get
under the juggernaut wheels of a great city are not so
deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but they
serve ; they are slight, but daily. The old fellow has
commenced th&tfaciUs descensus which leads to the
poorhouse or hospital unless the cemetery claims
He might have applauded his own perception if he
had cared to, some three years later, when he went
into the same place and asked for Becker. " Becker ? "
repeated the fat little man, bustling about. "Don't
know such a person. Oh, yes ; let 7 s see ; the old en
graver used to stay here long ago. Ask three doors
above." And three doors above they sent him down
the steps in front into a basement, where the old man
now occupied a tiny corner. He was much bent, and
shuffled in his walk, but that might have been from
advancing years. His slippers were frayed and broken,
his clothes quite green now with age, and there were
many patches, a very large one of different stuff show
ing on the left elbow of his coat. He was as quietly
polite as ever, a curious pathetic tone sounding in his
gentle voice ; but he made no ostensible appeal against
the hard conditions of a life which shoves the feeble
to the wall. He thanked Penrose for an order, and
was just a trifle confused when the latter noticed let
ter-boxes fixed to the wall above and alphabetically
labeled. " A little sort of private post-office," he ex
plained ; " people bring their letters and leave them
until called for. It brings a trifle of rent ; and times
122 THE METROPOLITANS
are so hard, and business dull. I ask no questions,
but I hope " (with a faint flush) " I am not helping on
burglaries or things of the sort." He had misunder
stood Penrose's smile, who had been merely thinking
that this would be convenient for Jasmina. Only
yesterday she had told him, with charming pettish-
ness, " I am sure Marie opens my notes and letters ;
they come before I am awake always."
So now he told her of Becker, where she might leave
or call for notes herself when out driving, or taking
the long daily ramble alone which was the delight of
this child of the plains and the forest. And this gave
Penrose an excuse for occasional descents on the old
engraver, whom he had vowed to rescue before the
last stage. "Not," he declared to himself, cynically,
"that I care a straw, but just for the pleasure of
cheating the old hag who plays Atropos for him."
He found a note awaiting him one morning in his
pigeonhole at Becker's, which said: "Come to me,
Stephen. I am so very unhappy. Your JASMINA."
He did what he would have done for no one else
put aside all other engagements and went to her pretty
rooms, where he found her trailing her long, silken,
clinging skirts up and down the floor, the loose knot
of her dusk hair falling low on her neck. " Stephen,
Stephen," she said, in an agitated whisper, both
hands on his shoulders, "is it true? Tell me, is it
" What is it you wish to hear, Jasmina ? "
" You know you know, I shall die if he does not
love me ! And a man last night, when he was not
here, said something of an affair, an attachment once
THE METROPOLITANS 123
talked of. I wanted to strike him ! But I was your
good Jasmina. I clenched my fingers into my palms
and just listened. How dared they say it ! It is not
true. You will tell me, Stephen. You will know;
you will help me."
He looked at her glowing, tremulous face very ten
derly, led her to a low chair, stroked her hair sooth
ingly. " Be quiet, Jasmina. I cannot tell you surely ;
there are things a man does not always confide to his
nearest friend. But we are together much of our time ;
I would probably have known something of it. There
was a girl of his own class whom he did admire. He
has not spoken of her lately ; did not even make an
effort to attend her father's funeral. It was when he
was called Prince Fortunatus; things have changed
since then." A fleeting remembrance of Katherine's
fine, spiritual face rebuked him. " At any rate, if for
tune smiles on him now it is with Zora's features."
But the excited creature beside him had caught at
one phrase. "Of his own class! Stephen Stephen
would that hinder ? He is one of us now, and there
is nothing in my past to bar ! For Anton's death-
was I to blame! You know none so well oh ! for
give me "
His face had not changed in the least. " You need
not say a word, Jasmina. Whatever I have done for
you I would do again to-morrow. What you desire
now you shall have if I can help you. But, remem
ber, we are in another country, among other people."
" Tell me, who was that woman of his own class ? "
" What does it matter, if it is all off now ? Her
name is Miss de Mansur. She is tall and fair."
124 THE METROPOLITANS
"Ouf ! like a white camellia, cold and colorless.
No fragrance no spirit no heart no life ! "
He did not answer. "Miss de Mansur," she re
"Do not trouble your little head any more." He
touched the dark waves caressingly. " Zora had bet
ter have a refreshing sleep, to be ready for all that
will happen to her in the play." He half smiled, going
out from her luxurious surroundings, with their Ori
ental air and perfume of sandalwood, into the New
York streets. " The child is a care to me," he thought,
u but even her passionate, untamed nature might find
something conventionally sobering in these formal,
ugly streets. In her own forests, now" A vision
flashed on him of swarthy, low-browed men, angry
and muttering together, their knives drawn. His
forehead contracted. " I fancy she is all right here."
As soon as he left she had sent her maid for a direc
tory, had copied an address on a card, slipped it into
her case, and, assuming her quietest street-dress, had
then gone out alone.
When Katherine, remembering wistfully her father's
simple rules of right living, began gathering up the
loosened threads of her life, she thought, with an in
expressible pang, "I am free now to do as I like.
There is no one whose approval I must seek." And
then she knew that it was not only her father's mis
givings which had weighed on her in this matter of
Eexford ; they had but distracted her from her own
doubts. The evening of the masquerade came back
to her ; Mr. Pundit's whispers j the disturbing vision
of that lovely woman beside him again ; the voice in
THE METROPOLITANS 125
the crowd ; his seeming want of sympathy in her grief,
aiid his absence at first for she had not been told
how often he called, and could not ask of him with
out exciting wonder. But hers was too proud a na
ture to give room long to suspicion. "We must at
least give him a hearing," she said, as though still
speaking to her father. And Rexford had the few
lines without which Penrose's companionship and
the theater's plaudits and Jenkins's chaff and Jasmi-
na's smiles had alike been as sounding brass. "I
will see you," she wrote, " this afternoon." But before
the time appointed another visitor was announced.
" A lady, who did not give her name," the man said.
" TeU my aunt."
" Mrs. Crofton is out, Miss de Mansur."
She sighed, but it was perhaps one of the committee
on this or that charity, and she had begun to interest
herself again in this duty. She would not stay long.
"To see you particularly," the man added; "some
She went languidly down to where her caller waited,
her slim figure looking taller for the somber draperies
trailing after her. Her visitor was also young and
graceful, and clad in black likewise; but a black
which, in cut and style, spoke not of bereavement,
but of the pride and joy of life. She rose, bowed
slightly in a manner altogether foreign, and reseated
herself. Katherine's various interests brought her in
contact with many strangers, and now she was too
forlornly incurious to wonder who her visitor might
be. For a few moments the caller was quite silent;
then Katherine broke the stillness : " I beg your par-
126 THE METROPOLITANS
don. I was told you wished to see me, but I did not
hear your name."
Jasmina's flashing glance had been noting the pure,
proud outlines of the head and face in their dark set
ting, the paling of tints, and the desolate expression,
and she was thinking exultantly, " Just as I said !
No warmth no life ! An iceberg cold hard ! "
Just at that moment Katherine's eye, growing ac
customed to the half -darkness of the room, recognized
the dancer with a sudden shock of surprise.
" My name," said Jasmina, " is Madame Vaskar6s."
There was again a pregnant silence of a few mo
ments. " I do not call on many ladies here," she went
on ; "I have no time from my art ; I have no wish."
She spoke slowly, her accent marking how carefully
she chose her words. "If I take your time now,
mademoiselle, it is only for a short while a moment
if, of your kindness, you answer a question. My
friends come to me sometimes. One of them is Mr.
Raixfore. It is of him I will ask you."
Katherine said not a word, nor moved ; only one
hand tightened over the other until the rings pressed
deep into the white flesh.
" I am perhaps you know the Zora of his opera.
He is an artist, but I have heard that he has ties in
the great world, not the world of art ; ties that would
kill his art. I do not believe what they say, now
less than ever" (her scarlet lip curled, showing a
gleam of teeth)," but thought I would ask you."
" Ask me! " Katherine's voice sounded unnatural
in her own ears.
" It was your name they mentioned."
THE METROPOLITANS 127
" Oh ! " said Katherine, rising to her feet. The
dancer rose too and took a few steps nearer the win
dow, from which a glancing light disclosed the eager,
dusky eyes and warmly tinted, mobile features. The
pride that spoke in the other girl's silent look stung
Jasmina for the first time out of the studied quiet she
had so far maintained.
"Mademoiselle would know, doubtless," she said
mockingly, " how I have right to ask questions ! He
is my very dear, good friend. He has other good
friends who love and admire him. We would be
sorry to hand him over to those who pick him up and
put him down as fortune favors and unfavors ! " In
the continued shock of an event which her senses
hardly persuaded her to believe, Katherine wore on
her fair features the look of a young St. Michael con
fronting the power of evil. "Mademoiselle," con
tinued the Hungarian, " will then say nothing ! "
" Nothing," she answered clearly ; " it is humiliation
enough that my name should have been mentioned in
your rooms." A rush of crimson surged over Jasmina's
cheeks and little ears; her eyes flashed, but she re
strained herself. She picked up the little wrap, thrown
on a chair-back, and put it about her graceful shoulders,
while Katherine, with cold fingers, touched the bell
mechanically. "I have found here, then, no news,
mademoiselle. The woman he loves will have pride
and joy to proclaim it. Au plalsir! " She waved her
hand and followed the footman out.
When Katherine, with slow steps, mounted the stairs
to her own room, it was mechanically to do what she
had fallen into the habit of doing lately that the piteous
128 THE METROPOLITANS
signs of grief might not distress others. But the eyes
were quite dry which she bathed now with perfumed
water, and she even smiled at herself when pressing
the towel to them afterward. Indeed, her spirit was
stung to the point of bewilderment by what she con
sidered the ineffaceable insult of this unexpected hap
pening. Joined with what had gone before, the
whispered rumors that had come to her, her family's
censure of him, the two occasions when she had seen
him with Jasmina, his seeming forgetfulness of herself
in trouble, this last shock made a damning whole.
"What can he be when a dancer of unknown past
dares to call him friend to come to Cornelius de
Mansur's house to question Katherine de Mansur! "
Her proud head, lowered in the softening of grief,
reared itself once more. Scorn for a time trampled
her love underfoot. Her large, shining eyes, fixed on
her father's portrait, seemed to say, "Perhaps you
were right." When, in all this exaltation of wounded
pride, she had finished a note to him, she went, in her
black robes, to a church, and sat there, her heart like
a stone, unable even to pray.
It was well, perhaps, she could not see him mount
to her door with buoyant step and ardent eyes, his
mien changing to utter bewilderment at the stolid
"Not at home, sir." He took the note left for him
mechanically, and when he had a chance to open it,
it said :
" I feel that I have done you an injustice in not
telling you before that what we spoke of formerly is
impossible. I had not secured my dear father's ap-
THE METROPOLITANS 129
proval, and now I have not even my own. It was all
a mistake. I feel that we were never suited to each
other. And, though I wish you all success, I think
you will agree with me that it is better we should not
meet again. <4 K. DE M."
He read it over three or four times in utter amaze
ment. "What can she mean? It is impossible no
reason given it sounds like delirium ! " When he
could collect his senses he replied :
" I do not understand. I am not used to making
out enigmas. To throw me over with no cause as
signedyou, Katherine ! It would be too unworthy.
If we are not suited to each other now, we once
thought we were, will you not at least tell me why?
She answered : " I had not meant to write again, but
you force me to say what I did not wish. All that I
hear of your life and friends proves to me how un-
suited we are. This must be final."
" Final ! No, by Heaven ! " declared Rexford to
himself. " I will see her. She must explain ! " He
rushed off to her house next afternoon, leaving a musi
cal critique half done, to be finished in a hurry and
badly by Jenkins, and was met by James's calm an
nouncement that Miss de Mansur had gone into the
country. " Did not know for how long. It was his
[James's] opinion that Miss Katherine had failed sadly
since the master's death. The change would do her
good. Mr. Reginald thought so too."
130 THE METROPOLITANS
"Damn Mr. Reginald," Rexford had nearly said,
though it was not his habit to swear. He felt for the
moment a savage hatred against those relatives who,
being near her, seemed a barrier between him and her.
Even the unconscious James came in, at the moment,
for a share of his resentment; which that domestic,
with a secret weakness for Rexford's virile beauty and
broad shoulders, generously repaid by volunteering
that " all letters and notes was to be forwarded from
house, as instructions was sent. No, sir; could n't
give address, as they '11 be movin' about."
"Ah, very well," said Rexford, marching off. He
did, in fact, send to the house in a few days these
lines : " A lady's word must, I suppose, be accepted as
final. Yet, as I have failed to see you or obtain an
explanation, I will say that a faith at the mercy of
rumor's breath is not invaluable." (He knew nothing
of Jasmina's visit.) "It is better it should fail me
now than later, when I might have learned to depend
utterly upon it. Good-by, then, since you will it so."
But after this his indignation soon burned itself out
and left dull embers of pain.
He worked harder than ever both at the office and
at home, where he was engaged upon a new opera.
"Zora," the season's success, was being brought out
now in distant cities. Jasmina saw him seldomer now,
though the pretty creature's soft chatter and music
were as restful to him as stroking a kitten ; but he
stayed later when he went, and did not always refrain
from roulette, even at her request. Penrose gave no
sign that he had quickly remarked his friend's pale and
haggard looks. He knew that no remonstrance, how-
THE METROPOLITANS 131
ever well intended, would prevent a man's overworking
himself if he so elected. But he studied him quietly,
and remarked casually, "'Zora' will run for a long
time yet. There is no hurry for the new thing, even
if Jenkins does yearn to see his name on a libretto."
This was one afternoon when Van Krippen had lent
them his yacht, and, the first prophetic mildness of the
spring being in the air, they talked, stretched out on
her deck, while she dived and skimmed and dipped in
and out of coves and windings of the river like some
great, white- winged bird uncertain of her mind. Rex-
ford might have borrowed half a dozen yachts at a
time if he would, for since " Zora "and Jasmina had
loomed on the horizon he was more than ever an ob
ject of envious admiration among young plutocrats.
But Morty, to do him justice, was a loyal little fellow,
who stuck to those he liked, successful or not a trait
inherited from the former miner, John Cripps.
Rexford pushed back the cap he wore, that the crisp
breeze might blow refreshingly on his head a little
hot and feverish. He did not answer, but presently,
taking the short pipe from his mouth, he said, with a
laugh, " Did I show you the letter I had from Archi
bald Pundit ? He could not delay another moment
the old worldling ! his hearty felicitations, and the
rest of it, to my father's son, and the pride of my
mother's heart (I did have a cablegram, you know,
from Lady Mellon). Pundit regrets, so he writes, not
to meet me oftener in those hospitable halls which I
formerly adorned. Somebody told me he said I was
unfit for them, and a disgrace generally, don't you
understand, to my family. He says now that Reginald
132 THE METROPOLITANS
Crofton and I are two young men of whom New York
is justly proud. Bah ! what does it matter ? " (with
another laugh, still drearier. His success, even his
art, had been to him lately as ashes in the mouth.) " I
had half a mind to answer the old gentleman, l Shall
windy words have no end ? Or is it any trouble to
thee to speak ? ' "
Penrose appeared not to notice the tone of bitter
ness. He looked out over the farther banks and over
hanging clouds, and blew rings of smoke. "I can
quote from that same old moralist myself : ' One man
dieth strong and hale, rich and happy ; but another in
bitterness of soul, without any riches ; and yet they
shall sleep together in the dust.' Which, after all, is
poor consolation, while still alive, for meager dinners."
He noticed the dark shadows under his companion's
eyes, and remembered, irrelevantly, that some one had
said that Miss de Mansur had gone away. Then his
thoughts became subjective again, and took a wide
leap across the ocean ; and he seemed to see a little
lad, playing by the side of a Welsh stream, start and
tremble when a harsh voice called, " Stephen ! " He
blew another ring of smoke, and went on : "I also
have had ' empty months,' and have numbered to myself
' wearisome nights ' ! Let us quit Job now, and his
eloquently impatient patience, and talk of Jasmina."
His voice softened, dwelling on her name.
"How well she sang the first solo in your new
'Lotus-eaters' at last night's rehearsal! I never
dreamed that woodland bird could be even so much
tamed. I can remember her, almost a baby, with little
face that seemed all eyes, sitting on the ground in a
THE METROPOLITANS 133
far Hungarian forest, trilling measures improvised or
caught up somewhere. She could hardly walk when
her small feet were flying over the grass in unison
with castanet or tambourine. Poor child ! a Gipsy
camp is a rough school, as I know, and she lost her
mother so soon a kind woman, and intelligent in her
way. Would you believe it, Rexf ord ? that uneducated
woman cared for me when we were both deserted, and
my pinched, childish features must have reminded
her of one who had cruelly ill treated her. Many
Christians would have thought it a small matter to
leave his son, as he had done himself. Well " (sending
up a great puff of smoke), " when he had gone to his
account, and I had found my way back to Wales, and
received no thanks to him my small patrimony, I
would have helped her; but she had died, and there
was only Jasmina. She learned to read and write from
jne, and solely to please me. The foolish child had
been persuaded into a marriage with one of the tribe
a brute before I could save her. But he was re
moved so quickly that he must be but a bad dream
to her. Then she could be sent to Vienna and Paris
for music and dancing. She came out on the stage
there, and now here with success, as you know ; with
high character and untouched heart, as I know. In
deed, her charm is so great and her nature so faithful
that " (very slowly, and with gaze intent on some far-
off point) " I have sometimes thought the man would
be fortunate whom she could fancy. With her soft
adaptability, the part of great lady would fit her well
if it should come."
He shook the ashes out of his pipe, and put it in his
134 THE METEOPOLITANS
pocket. Rexford had never, even indirectly, sought
to question the reticent man of his past, but broke
out now, with a return of impulsiveness, " I had ima
gined you passing your boyhood in Wales."
" The earliest part, yes ; but my mother died in my
babyhood, and my father took me about with him on
the Continent into all manner of out-of-the-way parts.
I was a forlorn little chap of only ten when he left
me, without a word, in Hungary. I never saw him
again, as he was dead when I made my way back to
the little Welsh place among the hills. I did not miss
him ; all I remember of him is, by my troth, some very
bitter words and a hard blow now and then. The
sole kindness I ever had was from that poor Gipsy
woman ; and the Lord do so unto me, and more also
well, a Gipsy tribe is a mighty interesting one to
" I believe you. It must have given you valuable
dots in writing the book of ' Zora.' "
"Yes," Penrose assented, as though weary of the
subject. They were nearing shore now, and he was
listening cynically to the varied blasphemy being ex
changed between the crew of two coal-barges which
had nearly run into each other. It did not occur to
Rexford, who wore a more interested expression now,
that his friend had broken through a fixed habit of
reserve for this very purpose and reward.
ES!MB:22Si g|P Sit Miss Lavender's, as elsewhere, the
early spring was making a fitful and
uncertain appearance, young and most
untender; for it came over Central
Park with a nipping east wind, and took
a spiteful pleasure in coaxing out a stray narcissus or
snowdrop in sheltered nooks here and there, only to
blight it again with a sudden sprinkle of snow or
frosty blast. The east wind seemed also to have
touched with acidity the lady principal's temper this
March day, as well as given a tinge of red to her classic
nose; for she spoke with extreme asperity to her
coachman on stepping into her coupe, and while she
was rolled along past some very pleasant glimpses of
lawn and foliage saw nothing, evidently, but gave
herself to thought, accompanied by a clouded brow
and sharp, impatient tapping of thin, gloved finger
against the glass.
First of all, Miss Lavender had expected to escape
this weather in the balmy air of Florida, where friends,
lounging on the verandas of the great hotels, even now
expected her. And there that foolish third Miss Goslin
must make a point of taking the mumps at the fash-
136 THE METROPOLITANS
ionable dancing academy her girls attended. Mumps !
the very name was plebeian, and seemed intended for
factory-workers and tenement-houses. What could
Cudworth have been thinking of to let such a thing
into his exclusive classes ! If Miss Goslin must be ill,
and communicate illness to others of the pupils, it
was just like her, why could she not have pneumonia
or nervous prostration, or something that would be a
little less repugnant to speak or write about? How
make it possible for the chief to take her trip, with the
chance of the household and staff being attacked ? If
that elegant Frenchwoman, Madame Bonair, were to
be depended upon but all she could do in this crisis
was to shrug her shoulders with a little shriek of hor
ror, and cry, "Juste ciel! qu'on est affreux, comme
cela ! Ne m'en parlez plus ! " Fraulein Volmer would
have taken a sentimental interest in each sufferer if
admitted to her, and gladly read the "Sorrows of
Werther " aloud, or otherwise ministered ; but she was
not very practical. No ; clearly, Miss Lavender must
remain ; and the Lenten consolations of the Ponce de
Leon brightened as they took their flight.
Still, it might have been worse. Her prote'ge's, De
Vaurien and Mauvais Sujet, had had many opportu
nities of inspecting this garden of girls before the ser
pentthe vulgar serpent of mumps had made his
appearance. She had had the pleasure of transmitting
to the parents of Miss van Krippen and another Miss
Kilmansegg formal proposals for the hands of those
young ladies, and had no doubt of favorable responses.
She had already written hopefully to the aunt in the
Faubourg; and various tailors and other tradesmen
THE METROPOLITANS 137
of Paris were feeding fat their hopes of getting back
a little of their money when their illustrious and im
pecunious patrons should wed American heiresses.
But Miss Lavender frowned once more, turning over
the package of letters which had been handed to her
on leaving. The European plan, on which her girls
were brought up, included by rights an inspection
of correspondence, but "one must allow a little for
American prejudices; after all, it is not a kinder
garten." So, though surprisingly well acquainted
with the subject-matter of their letters, she had never
been actually known to open them. One among
these, however, she held some time in her hand, turn
ing it over and over as if undecided. It was in Arch
ibald Pundit's well-known handwriting, and addressed
to Miss van Krippen. What could he possibly have
to write about that he might not first discuss with
herself! She remembered that, on one or two occa
sions recently, his attentions had not been exclusively
her own, as formerly, nor even general ; but that he
had contrived to sit and talk with Angelica. " A self-
willed, pert, and troublesome young woman," decided
Miss Lavender, tartly. " I shall be glad when I get
her off my hands with eclat." It was on a shopping
tour that the principal was bound this afternoon ; and
it was soon concluded ; for her orders, though large,
were well considered, gave little trouble, and were
promptly paid. Then the coupe turned through
Twentieth street and upward along Sixth Avenue,
and here, to her surprise, coming out from what
seemed a tiny book-stall in a basement shop, were Miss
van Krippen and Fraulein Volmer, supposed to be
138 THE METROPOLITANS
walking in the Park. It was, in fact, Becker's little
post-office, where Angelica had just pocketed, after
reading, a poetic epistle from Otto ; the soft-hearted
but injudicious fraulein being bribed to countenance
this by occasional verses addressed to herself, descrip
tive of the fatherland, the Rhine, edelweiss, first love,
or such impersonal topics, together with a caress and
a soft, " Ah, dearest fraulein ! when you were a girl
did you have a Miss Lavender to freeze you up and
read your letters ? " The sentimental spinster thought
of a bursch she had once known, with a long pipe and a
toy cap perched amid his frowzy hair, who had given
her a spray of forget-me-nots. She had them, dry and
pressed, still, and with a sigh she gave in at once ; and
it must be admitted that she did not, as chaperon, earn
that fifty cents an hour which went into Miss Laven
That lady took no notice of her now, but, instantly
stopping the coupe, drew up beside Angelica, calling
"If you are quite through your shopping, kindly
get in with me. I will drive you home."
" There is a cab waiting," said the unabashed An
" Dismiss it, please."
" No, thank you " (with a touch of indignation) ;
" the fraulein is not to go home in a car." She actu
ally kept Miss Lavender waiting until she .saw Frau
lein Volmer safely into the cab, with a fee to the driver
for extra care of the bewildered passenger.
" May I ask, Miss van Krippen," said Miss Lavender,
then, " what you are doing so far down-town ? "
THE METROPOLITANS 139
"I changed my mind" (sweetly) "about the Park,
and came for some shopping instead."
" I would rather you would tell me your exact plans
when you go out," said the baffled Miss Lavender.
They were now in Fifth Avenue, which caused her to
add, " It was my intention to stop at the Provincial
Matrons' club-room, but I can postpone it, taking this
opportunity for a little private talk. I think I am
sure you will be flattered when I tell you that the
Vicomte de Vaurien made, last week, proposals for
your hand, which I have already referred to your pa
rents, knowing that you have received with me the
polish fitting you for his exalted station. I make no
doubt they will be delighted with such brilliant pros
" To my parents ! It is mamma, then, whom he
wishes to commit bigamy ? "
Miss Lavender was a picture of dignified reproof.
"You may not have had opportunities for knowing,
Miss van Krippen, that it is the European custom to
first approach a young lady's parents on the subject
of an alliance."
" But we are American," said Angelica, innocently,
" and, my dear Miss Lavender, how awkward for him
to obtain the family blessing, and then have me say
" Do I understand that you could think of declining
so eligible a match ? "
"I could think of it easily," replied Angelica,
dreamily. She was watching through the glass the
continuous stream of gay and varied pedestrians, with
whose draperies and hats the wind was playing antics.
140 THE METEOPOLITANS
" Is it his uncle, or which of the family, who ill treats
his wife so shamefully ? But that is not to the point.
What I was really thinking was, how interesting
mamma's mail will be this week ! "
Miss Lavender looked helplessly at her, opened her
lips and shut them. She knew enough of this pupil
not to force her hand. She might better consult Mr.
Pundit as to how to obtain the desired end. Which
thought reminded her : " Here is a letter for you by
this afternoon's post." Angelica, permission obtained,
opened and read the missive; smiled, pretended to
hesitate, and then tendered it, remarking suavely, " If
it is good form to refer these matters to authority,
Miss Lavender, then it must be right to show you
this." The lady read, with a keen pang of slighted
vanity, what the erstwhile devoted Archibald had
written to her pupil.
" MY DEAR Miss VAN KRIPPEN : So carefully guarded,
so discreetly chaperoned are the fair wards of the es
timable and worthy Miss Lavender that I have long
sought in vain an opportunity of avowing to you
verbally my great admiration. Thus I am forced to
indite my sentiments instead. Will you permit me to
lay at your feet the homage of a heart elderly, it is
true ; long widowed, alas ! but yearning to give and
receive warm, earnest, disinterested affection. [Miss
Lavender's lip curled.] How can I tell you the im
pression your charms have made on one who, though
your senior in years, is susceptible of a youthful ardor
and freshness of feeling unknown to a cold and cal
culating generation ! and who can offer you I say it
THE METROPOLITANS 141
with modest pride his position as an arbiter of fash
ion, an oracle of good form, in this our city. One
word from you one glance of encouragement from
those celestial orbs and I hasten to kneel before you.
" Your admiring and devoted servant,
" Can this be the reason, Miss van Krippen this
this preposterous proposal that you think of declin
ing the brilliant De Vaurien connection ? "
"Mr. Pundit," murmured Angelica, casting down
her eyes, "is an elderly man, certainly; but he is no
titled foreign adventurer. He is an American born
and bred, and, as such, comprehensible at least. Know
ing my early lack of advantages, dear Miss Lavender,
you can imagine that the restfulness of having such
an undoubted model of form for a lifelong guide,
philosopher, and friend might be attractive to an un
taught creature like myself. But I do not wish to be
hasty. I have not decided to accept either, but will
hear arguments on both sides."
Her preceptress, who knew something of girls,
looked at her, completely puzzled. But Angelica had
the amusement of seeing her, after this, mount guard
herself during Mr. Pundit's visits, when that gentleman
would fain have discussed in person Miss van Krippen's
non-committal reply to his note. And her venerable
suitor gave the girl further sport by his evident dread
lest Miss Lavender should make premature discovery
of his defection. She found no sport, however, in the
redoubling of Miss Lavender's smooth and incessant
eloquence in behalf of the Vicomte de Vaurieii; nor
142 THE METROPOLITANS
in her connivance at what speedily became a persecu
tion on the part of the young French roue, whose debts
were pressing. Fraulein Volmer was surprised one
day by Angelica's bursting out vehemently, " I am just
tired of it ! I wish Katherine would come back ! Of
course I have you, you kind, soft thing" (embracing
her), "but I need my Katherine." It was that very
day she slipped out, took a cab to Becker's, where a
note awaited her, was absent yet awhile longer, and
came back without her absence being remarked which
Miss Lavender stoutly maintained was a thing impos
sible in her well-regulated establishment.
And, if Angelica had known it, Katherine was even
then near her ; for she had not found in a change of
scene the hoped-for oblivion. By shadowy river-bank
or sunny hillside there went with her Black Care, who
sits on the rider's crupper or dogs the pedestrian's
footsteps with equal tenacity. " I might be better at
home, with some work to do," she told her aunt, with
a wistful look which went to that kind lady's heart.
So they turned their heads homeward ; and she found
some relief from anxiety at her niece's altered looks in
commenting on the pitiful inefficiency of men young
men who could devise no means of bringing back
the hue of happiness to that cheek and light to those
eyes. "And such eyes, and such a voice, and such
grace and sweetness ! " Indeed, the elder woman
never tired of sounding the praises of this young rela
tive, whom she had not seen since childhood. Reginald
laughed when his mother waxed eloquent. "What
does this portend, little mother? Have you dreaded
so much that in my African wanderings I should fall
THE METROPOLITANS 143
in love with a complexion the shadowed livery of the
burnished sun ; that I should take some savage woman
who should rear my dusky brood ? "
" Stuff ! " said his mother, irrelevantly ; " Katherine
would not look at you." Which she felt to be almost
blasphemy, so goodly a sight she herself thought him.
He would have been very willing to have Katherine
look at him with other than the frank, serenely kind,
cousinly glances she now gave him.
" What a comrade she would make ! " he thought.
11 How strong and gentle and bright and sympathetic !
Always helping a man, never hindering. What a rare,
fair creature she looks among all these little, chatter
ing, giggling society girls, with their petty views of
life ! " He began to picture her in a palanquin, borne
through the tropical virgin forest, he tramping beside
her, their hopes and interests the same.
The " little, chattering, giggling society girls " they
ran across repaid his nattering estimate by taking an
intense interest in what struck them as the great suit
ability of the cousins to each other. " They looked so
tall and handsome, my dear, standing together on the
deck of the river steamer, and were always talking
about books and travel and lion-hunting and that sort
of thing. He 's very rich, you know, and he could n't
take his eyes off her, and I believe they 're engaged."
Not being interested in books and travel and lion-
hunting and that sort of thing themselves, they were
excellent disseminators of gossip, and Katherine was
little aware how widely the report of her approaching
marriage to Mr. Crofton was circulated and believed.
It came out in the " Magpie," an impertinent little sheet
144 THE METROPOLITANS
which prints all manner of gossip and scandal and in
solent untruths. Jenkins happened to purchase the
copy containing an authoritative statement concerning
Miss de Mansur and Mr. Crofton, and had it in his
hand when he came into Rexford's room one evening
before dinner. He waved it about as he rambled on
in his usual style :
" Well, I went to the opening of that new Women
Bachelors' Club last night. Promised to recite some
thing in first part of program. All very kind about
it, complimented me, and that. One of the Bachelors
walked herself in at the very last, just before supper
pert-looking little girl, with a lot of rumpled hair, but
pretty enough. She answered the toast to 'Men.'
Here are her remarks (I took notes) : ' Men lovely
men God bless them ! They double our cares, they
divide our joys. How generously and unstintingly
they give us advice ! How boldly they stand in solid
phalanx to shield us from the crowds around the ballot-
box ! How gladly they protect us from the contami
nating influences of the court-room ! How tenderly
they have drawn us from the coils of equal education,
and how carefully pointed out to us the pitfalls in the
paths which lead to fortune ! At what cost, at what
sacrifice, they erect before our admiring eyes their
beautiful club-houses ! How they must sit, day after
day, deprived of the presence of her who alone brings
light into their lives ! No ministering angel to hand
the cup of solace. No fair divinity to warm the slip
pers for their weary feet. All done for us for ex
ample's sake. How unflinchingly they pose for our
benefit! We may imagine with what longing they
THE METROPOLITANS 145
look forward to the time when we, in twin club-houses,
like Egypt's men and women, shall stand by their side.
As fathers they are indispensable; as brothers they
are open to criticism ; as lovers they are irreproach
able ; as husbands we have nothing better ; as men
we can only say, with all their faults, we love them
Rexford smiled appreciatively.
" Oh, yes ; it was good enough," said Jenkins, " and
there was plenty of applause. But, to show you her
impudence: I had myself presented after supper,
meaning to say something nice about her speech ; and
she could n't have caught my name, for she said pres
ently, looking over the program, ' I came late on pur
pose. There was some recitation in the first part. I
hate to hear grown men speak pieces. Tell me'
(pointing to my poem on the bill), ' has that creature
done his elocution act yet ? ' ' He finished some time
ago,' said I. 'How bad was it?' she asked. 'Oh,
about the average.' ' Thank Heaven, I escaped it ! ' she
breathed piously. 'You don't think he is likely to
break out again ? ' ' No/ 1 told her ; ' I can assure you
he shall not repeat the offense for I am the man.'
Some little balm in Gilead there was in the expression
of her face " (he grinned despite himself) ; " but I don't
go to the Women Bachelors' any more. Here, I '11
leave this ' Magpie ' here ; when you 're through dress
ing you can revel in it. I know you 're devoted to
scandal. You know Crofton, by the way, the African
explorer. There 's something about him."
Reginald Crofton was not the rose, but at least he
had lived near her. Rexford picked up the paper after
146 THE METROPOLITANS
a while, and glanced over it. A messenger ran into
Jenkins that night, when he was in Penrose's office,
with a note.
" ' The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced
loon ! ' " declaimed Jenkins, glancing at the paper.
The astonished boy retreated rapidly.
" What 's the matter ? " asked Penrose from his desk.
" It 's Rexford confound him ! He 's asked me to
do a lot of his work for him to-morrow ; and I 've
plenty of my own. He '11 be out of town for a week.
Why does n't he stick to it or give it up ? I '11 have
to be more positive with him about these odd jobs."
An east wind was still blowing, but with something
of soft relenting in its breath, when Angelica came in
to Miss de Mansur's pretty room, an irrepressible joy-
ousness in her eye and lightness in her step. " Oh, I
am so glad to have you back, my Katherine ; but why,
why did you stay so long? I might have been so
much better a girl if you had been here."
" What is it ? What have you been doing ? " queried
Katherine, expecting to hear of saucy tricks with Miss
" I have been changing my name," she replied, with
affected demureness, casting down her eyes. While
Katherine stared at her, incredulous, she fell down on
her knees, taking care not to disarrange her stylish
draperies, and clasped her small hands dramatically.
"I will not arise until I have your forgiveness and
your blessing for my Otto and myself ! "
" Angelica ! Angelica ! get up. What do you mean
by this nonsense ! You have not been doing anything
foolish ? "
THE METROPOLITANS 147
"Certainly not, my dear" (rising and smoothing
down her skirts) ; " only, to adapt a French rhyme,
Si t'aimer est folie,
Je serais folle toute la vie.
Katherine, do not look as if you saw me led to execution !
Even if I have, in your absence, arranged my own life
and become Mrs. Federling, I shall probably escape
with twenty years in the penitentiary. Katherine
dear " (a serious and wistful note came into her voice),
" you don't know how one who has heard nothing but
money from her birth craves to be loved for herself ;
and truly, truly, when you know my Otto, you will find
that he is the kindest, dearest, and most genuine of
men, who cares only about me myself. I took pains
to have him misinformed about my means. He is the
most absurd creature about poetry and sentiment and
that you should hear the fraulein and him " (break
ing into laughter through her tears). " Well, I do not
understand their Goethe and Heine, but I am not such
a bad judge of men."
" Oh ! " exclaimed Katherine, still aghast, " Miss
Lavender your parents ! What will they say ! "
" Miss Lavender, my dear ! she is blue with indigna
tion, and has dismissed Fraulein Volmer as an acces
sory before the fact which the fraulein was not.
Still, it is a paler blue than it would have been if Mr.
Pundit, her undervalued property, had not, in perfect
form, attempted to transfer the title-deeds to me. You
can understand that, between that bore, her resent
ment, and her determination to assist the repulsive De
Vaurien in his offensive addresses, life at Franklin
Hall was just unbearable. So I wrote to a girl I used
148 THE METROPOLITANS
to know out West, now in Germany, to get her brother
to find out if the fraulein's account of the Federliiigs
and Otto was correct ; and it turned out all right."
" If you had written to your mother to inquire"
" You don't know mamma. She was in Paris, ex
changing compliments with the De Vaurien family.
If she had found me disengaged, she would have man
aged that alliance one way or another. So I wrote
that, as I knew she had adopted European modes, I
hereby served her with the customary trois 'sommations
respectueuses. 1 * "
"In one letter?"
" Oh, yes " (placidly) ; " time pressed. I put the last
two in postscripts, and told her that, as she was already
on the Continent, she might cross the Rhine and make
friends with the Federlings, as I would be one of them
before she could answer. Why did she leave me in
that mill of feminine eligibles ? I informed papa, and
have his forgiveness already by cable ; by cable, as I
begged him. Is not that original ? "
Katherine looked at her helplessly. "And is Mr.
Mr. Federling still at Delmonico's ? "
" Certainly not. He will now have time to find the
professorship that will suit him, or what he chooses.
He hates idleness, and is very learned and studious.
We have a charming apartment, where you will come
and see us."
"My dear, it is all very wrong, you know; but I
hope your judgment of men is correct, and that you
are going to be very happy."
" Of course it was wrong, and Mr. Pundit will say
much worse. 'Bad form, don't you know. In the
THE METROPOLITANS 149
worst possible taste, you understand.' But just wait,
wait until you know my Otto. He is down-stairs
" Then let me wish him joy/' said Katherine. She
found the suddenly made bridegroom a fresh-faced
young Teuton, whose frank, yet modest, manner made
a favorable impression. He beamed on his wife's
friend with a look of bliss, somewhat modified by a
sense of guilt in the circumstances of their hasty
union. He quoted verse freely, in praise of his " blond
angel " (whom his eyes sought incessantly), as the best
excuse for what looked like rashness. He admitted the
dereliction as regarded the "venerated and respect-
worthy " parents on both sides, and had no excuse to
offer beyond the tyranny of the eternal Eros. But
Katherine divined that, had chivalrous loyalty per
mitted, he might have pleaded his "blond angel's"
habit of arranging matters herself.
But there was an unwonted appeal for sympathy in
Angelica's usually careless demeanor which touched
her ; and she watched the young couple saunter across
the square, all absorbed in each other, with a half-
pleased interest which lightened for the moment her
heavy heart. And if there is an undue proportion of
wooing and matrimony in this chapter, the fact that
it was in the springtime, when young blossoms were
showing their pretty heads through the grass, and
little birds inspected the first green sprouts on the
trees, and formulated, amid much hopping and twit
tering, an "Artis Amatoriae" of their own, must
' EXFORD'S week of absence had stretched
into three, and Jenkins was still acting as
musical critic in his place, when, coming
into his room at dusk one evening, his
friendly substitute encountered hi step
ping from the elevator.
" Upon my word ! " exclaimed Jenkins, " it is really
good of you to come back at all. And where have you
been lying low all this time and chuckling over the
blunders in my reviews? I have n't been to all the
musical events, I tell you frankly, but just took the
amateur ones on faith ; which proved a little awkward
once or twice, when they altered the program without
my knowledge. However, that 's all one now ; for not
a day longer am I going to do double chores, and wear
away with overwork pounds of my valuable avoirdu
pois. I suppose the brilliant composer of ' Zora ' has
begun to think himself above the duties of a humble
The light from an open doorway fell on his com
" Well," he continued, " I should not say your vaca
tion had done you much good ; you look used up."
"No wonder," replied Rexford. "Now that you
THE METROPOLITANS 151
stop for breath, I may tell you that it is ' The Miller
of Dee ' which has worn me out the utterly impossi
ble words of that libretto, which I would know for
yours in farthest Ind. I finished the scores, however."
" Finished them ? That was quick work, most noble
collaborator. Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah ! " he solemnly
Penrose came to his door. "What is the howling
about ? Ha, youngster, back again ? I am glad." A
whole volume of welcome was compressed into two
or three simple words. He was in his shirt-sleeves,
struggling with a troublesome collar-button, but
moved aside in mute invitation for his friend to enter,
while Jenkins passed in at his own door.
His opinion of Rexford's looks was, in effect, the
same as Jenkins's. He scanned him as, appearing
wholly occupied at the mirror with his button, he re
marked, "Turkish bath and dinner will brace you
up all right. Fancy you ; ve been traveling in an
Rexford took no notice. He sat on the edge of a
lounge absently punching one of the pillows.
" Would you have minded much," he asked abruptly,
" if I had n't done ' The Lotus-eaters ' ? It was a fear
ful pull to finish it, and I had more than half a mind
to leave it. I was busy in the daytime ; had to grind
at it at night."
" Do you mean to say that you finished l The Lotus-
eaters ' while you were away besides, as I judge from
Jenkins's whoops, polishing off 'The Miller'? You
must have gone into retirement in the country."
"I was in Washington, rushing around, but took
152 THE METROPOLITANS
my evenings. You can have Menu try the scores to
night, or when you will ; he can overlook the choruses
" Why not yourself ? "
" I shall have all I can attend to now, getting my
outfit ready for the expedition."
Penrose had by this time inducted himself into his
dinner coat. He drew a long breath, looking hard at
Eexford, but said, even more quietly, " This dialogue
begins to remind me of the faithful steward in ' The
Way to Tell Bad News.' Let us leave our pribbles
and our prabbles, and get to the heart of the matter.
Are you intending just after 'Zora's' success, and
before bringing out yourself 'The Lotus-eaters' and
1 The Miller of Dee 'to leave New York definitely for
some time ? "
" For just as long a time as possible."
"Would it be exceeding friendship's privilege to
ask your reasons, most excellent
" ' Fool,' you would finish. Do not hesitate. We
are all fools together, we mortals, and there is not
always a reason to be found among us. My dear fel
low, a man must have some sort of interest in living,
so he keeps on making experiments with himself. The
three great human passions are, you have heard, love,
war, and money-making. In these end-of-the-century
days, with arbitration imminent, I may not have the
excitement of carving my natural enemies not even
Lord Mellon, or or " He broke off with a dismal
sort of laugh; and Penrose noted anew the weary
recklessness of his attitude, and the tired look about
eyes and brow, where limp little locks of damp hair
THE METROPOLITANS 163
clung. " Money-making," he resumed, " is a necessary
evil for some of us, when a little Lord Cantaloupe
appears upon the stage ; but when we have enough to
feel secure of bread and butter, and even occasional
canvasback and Burgundy rose, the occupation begins
" Perhaps because you use work as a means, not an
end. Work keeps a man erect; it is fatally easy to
sink down into mere animalism. But you were say
" Oh" (with some vehemence), " that I begin to hate
it all ! The crowds and the applause, and the young
noodles that come up to compliment and don't know
one note from another, and I beg your pardon the
papers, with their effusive paragraphs, and and
" If this were mere pampered vanity," said Peurose,
keenly, " as it might be, I should simply say, my good
fellow, you are badly spoiled by your reverses. But
I think I discern something else. If I am intrusive,
let me know. But the first great human interest you
have not touched upon. If you have been giving
divided worship to your art, she will undoubtedly fail
" Oh, my art, my art ! " cried Rexf ord. "I would not
blaspheme that divine consoler ! But yes, then " (like
one tired of bearing pain alone), "there is another
idol, but one who will have none of my worship who
cares less for votaries of melody than for men of thews
and sinews, mighty hunters who lay the trophies of
their chase at her feet ! " Suddenly the paragraph
about Miss de Mansur and Reginald Crofton, which he
154 THE METROPOLITANS
also had seen, came into Penrose's mind. He looked
gravely at the haggard young face and remembered
" Hearsay is a poor guide of conduct," he said at last.
" Oh " (laughing harshly), " I did not depend wholly
upon that. I have had notes returned unopened since
Jenkins, who had been whistling shrilly in his room,
broke now into a snatch of song, "There are other
eyes in Spain," and Penrose closed the door softly.
" It is not easy for most men to leave an idol's shrine."
" It is impossible for me to stay near this one."
" And where, then, will you go ? "
"You have heard of the Ritler arctic trip, to be
made this summer? The 'Argus' has had sporadic
paragraphs about it. It is sent by a wealthy scientist,
too old to go himself, but with this hobby. It is not
to find an impracticable northwest passage, nor yet to
go farther north than any previous party. It is just
to settle certain geographical and scientific questions ;
and I judge it will be safe enough, and comparatively
unexciting, for the professor in charge, Dr. Ritler, is
going to take his wife. I saw him in Washington, and
found him willing enough to have me as volunteer, for
I know something of his specialties and am a fair shot.
Their party goes on this week to St. John's, and I join
them there next week."
Penrose thought vaguely that he would have time
enough after next week to suffer for the cheery com
panionship and joyous looks which had so brightened
his last year or two. He only asked :
" And ' Zora,' and the new ones ? "
THE METROPOLITANS 155
" Oh " (indifferently), " the managers have accepted
them. I leave the rest in your hands."
"And and Jasmina?"
" For that matter "he was passing into his own
room now) " for that matter, it is you who have always
had most interest in our Gipsy star."
For days following he was as one driven in his haste
to complete preparations for getting away. A list
had been furnished him by Dr. Ritler and others of the
party, glad to have as a recruit this frank and fearless
spirit, with well-trained muscles and superb health to
make him valuable. The pemmican, dog food, lime-
juice, and such things as he had vaguely connected,
from reading, with circumpolar wanderings, came not
within his province, he was laughingly told, but merely
the personal belongings indicated. Penrose, heavy-
hearted, but externally unmoved, watched him prepar
ing to quit the orbit in which, on one plane or other,
he had taken pleasure in his brilliant revolutions.
" I have seen Menu and the others," Rexford told him.
" l Zora ' will soon be sent into the provinces, and make
way for l The Lotus-eaters.' That is to be on a grand
scale, Menu tells me ; but I leave my prestige in your
hands, old chap. Jenkins, the great, the only Jenkins,
will look after i The Miller ' at the Gaiety, as the book
is his. And, Jenkins, if I don't come back, you may
claim the music too."
" What larks, Pip ! " cried Jenkins, not as cheerily
as usual. " If you insist on being frozen stiff, why not
go up and sit awhile with Miss Lavender ? I was with
her for a half -hour yesterday to get notes for an arti
cle on < Finishing Academies,' and my teeth chattered
156 THE METROPOLITANS
in my head when I left." In truth, the good fellow
was very loath to have this favorite of his leave so
early in their new partnership ; nor could he under
stand, ease-loving himself, how a sane man could give
up the comforts of civilization for any cause whatever.
" If he dislikes the eastern exposure in ' Simla/ 1 would
have given him my room," he thought ruefully.
The Van Krippens, the Doulton-Mintons,the Crowne
Derbys, the Royall Worcesters, and all the rest of the
dandies were likewise filled with surprise. That a
handsome man, connected with the English nobility,
a composer at present the rage (could they not, each
one, hum an air or two from " Zora " ?), sure of adula
tion from society, which had evidently made a mistake
during the short while she hid her face from him
that he should leave all these splendors for certain
hardship ! " Was n't there an old great-aunt or some
body in the family that was eccentric ? Yes, that 's
it; he 's off, by Jove!"
" Hum ha my dear boy," said Archibald Pundit,
meeting him, " what 's this I hear ? Our brilliant
young artist leaving us? We can't spare you, don't
you know. And Lady Mellon will hardly approve,
don't you perceive."
"I think I perceive," said Rexford, "that Lord
Mellon's pranks are absorbing most of Lady Mellon's
time and attention just now. I hardly approve of
them myself, don't you know."
" I was sorry in an instant," he told Penrose after
ward, "for the disrespect. He had nothing to say,
for I know he has heard all those hideous stories about
Lord Mellon, that descendant of the great Henry,
THE METROPOLITANS 157
Marquis of Gourdes. Still, I had no right to abash
the old fellow, worldling as he is. He did not use to
irritate me so ; but oh, Penrose, I am sick of everything !
' Grattez le moderne, vous trouvez le sauvage.' I long to be
far away, where the aurora takes the place of the elec
tric light and the sledge is the only transit, rapid or
slow. Do you remember our reading last year of the
arctic squadron lauding in Iceland, and how full of
wonder seemed their adventures to us? And I had
never a presentiment that, this very next year, I should
be going myself on a similar expedition." And in all
this sceva indignatio and feverish hurry to be gone was
a throbbing consciousness that he would give up this
scheme too, as one of utter futility, if Katherine said
but the word. He just missed meeting her face to
face one afternoon, when the church door had but
closed on her as he passed by, where she had come,
with stricken heart, to offer a petition for him, in
deed. It was after her cousin's mentioning at home
this addition to the arctic party.
" I begin to feel a little more respect for him," he
said. " It looks as though he might find some better
use for his brain than composing jingles for street
boys to whistle."
"Oh, you, Reginald!" laughed his mother; "your
one idea of the whole duty of man is to go about
poking and prying into the dark corners of the earth.
But I am glad Mr. Rexford withdraws himself from
the temptations of theatrical success. I hope " (kindly)
" he will come to no harm."
" Oh," said her son, carelessly, " this is an easy and
safe trip, I hear, as far as prudent and reasonable fore-
158 THE METROPOLITANS
sight can make it. A very practical scheme, and
throws no sort of glamour of mysterious danger over
the party. Dr. Hitler's wife will go. He thinks arctic
perils have been much overrated."
" There have been a good many lives lost," said his
mother, dubiously. " People will hardly go the length
of dying just to win a little romantic interest dying
slowly and painfully."
Katherine said nothing, but presently slipped away
to where she was in the habit of carrying her troubles.
During this time Jasmina, as Zora, danced and sang
as usual, and had begun to look over her new part in
the rehearsals of "The Lotus-Eaters." As for the
" Mayde who followed the Man who followed the Miller
of Dee," that light role was acceptably filled by a noted
soubrette. Penrose had reason to know that Jasmina
had fretted restively during the young composer's ab
sence, and delayed telling her of his proposed departure
now. So it chanced that she first learned of it through
a paper, where some head-line attracted her careless
eye. " ' List of Members of Expedition/ " she repeated.
" What Raixf ore is this he means ? It says ' Allan ! ' '
(with incredulous disdain). " Some foolish blunder
a canard. He leave the city leave Zora" (softly)
" for these snowbanks ? Absurd ! See, Stephen " (on
his coming in), " what these ridiculous papers write
one day, only to contradict the next. How did they
get his name ? "
" My dear child," he answered seriously, " it may be
true. I have heard something of it."
" Stephen ! Stephen ! " (voice and hands appealing)
" it is not true ; say it is not true."
THE METROPOLITANS 159
" I am afraid it is true."
Her white teeth closed on the lower scarlet lip ; her
breath came in quick gasps ; her slender fingers clasped
"Oh," she cried, in piteous, childlike appeal, "I
would die then. You will not let me die ; you have
done everything in my life for me, Stephen. Do this
now : keep him here."
" Jasmina," he said, almost in a whisper, " you know
it kills me to refuse you anything, but this I cannot
do. He will not stay for any reason that I have to
She gave him a look from her great eyes like a
deer's that is hurt. "If it is true, then when does
he go ? "
" In about ten days."
"Will he be here to-night?"
" I heard him say he had another engagement."
She walked up and down the room with her free,
graceful step, then looked again at the paper ; some
thing in the paragraph held her attention. Suddenly
she said, " I shall not sing this evening ; my throat is
" Your manager will rage."
" I can get him a doctor's certificate. I should give
my understudy a chance ; she has wished for it long."
Penrose sighed when outside again perhaps with
relief that the scene had been less painful than he
dreaded. " Poor child ! poor little impulsive girl ! To
have given me single-minded affection all this time,
only to save a wealth of savage loyalty for Rexf ord,
who goes away unknowing and unheeding ! "
160 THE METROPOLITANS
The ill wind which took away from the audience
that night the popular idol in "Zora" blew a long-
looked-for chance to an ambitious understudy; but
alas ! there was no dreamed-of round of applause. Her
hearers were but politely tolerant, and showed their
sense of injury in losing Jasmina, who was denied to
every caller that evening on the same plea of illness ;
to the regret of Rexf ord, who missed, with all his pre
occupation, the warm, scented room where, with joyous
chatter and soothing music, he had found in recent
bitterness the sympathy so essential to his nature.
That she was denied to him caused Penrose wonder
ment, who knew her ailment to be feigned, and found,
besides, at Becker's two or three little notes which
begged her dear Stephen not to be at all anxious at
her seclusion, which was merely on account of her
being particularly engaged just now. " I shall feel
better satisfied," he reflected, " when she is in harness
again with ' The Lotus-eaters.' "
But it was another sort of harness Jasmina was
seeking when, leaving her maid on guard at her apart
ment, she had gone quietly over to Washington. There
she found the address she wanted, and went near there
in a cab, which was left in waiting while she walked a
block farther and up the steps of a house. There she
inquired for Mrs. Ritler. "I saw," said she to the
strong, capable-looking wife of the scientist, who came
to her, " that madame was to accompany her husband
on his voyage ; also that the maid had fallen ill who
was to go with her. If madame still desires an atten
dant, it is I who would like to go with her."
Mrs. Ritler scrutinized the new applicant. In spite
THE METROPOLITANS 161
of plain, dark attire, there was something too brilliant
about her ; and yet the time was so short, no one else
seemed eager to volunteer, this one was younger than
the maid who had failed her, therefore more service
able; Dr. Ritler made such a point of her having
another woman with her, as he might be absent fre
quently. " Some reference would be necessary," at last
she said hesitatingly ; " I do not know you at all."
"The best of references," said Jasmina, promptly.
"Dr. Ritler shall have them. See, madame," with a
pleading gesture of the little brown hands, " not many
will desire to go with you to such a place ; but me I
have great wish to see the wonderland ! " This with
odd emphasis and ineffable expression. The charm of
her voice and manner began to tell on Mrs. Ritler.
" See, now; I do not know much, but I am so willing.
Let me go with you to St. John's to-morrow ; I will
give references in New York. Write to this address
at once. The answer will come to St. John's, and if
it is not right you can still leave me there."
" Wait until Dr. Ritler comes in," said his wife,
Penrose had next morning a note from her, asking
information as to her new companion. By the same
mail Jasmina had written :
" Say what you can or invent to satisfy the scruples
of madame. For, Stephen, mark you, I am determined
to go. And if she leaves me, I swear to you I will kill
myself. If he goes to cold or starvation, I go too ; and,
Stephen, I trust you to keep from him and every one
the slightest hint of my presence here. He shall not
162 THE METEOPOLITANS
know until we have started. The public and mana
gers may think what they please of the sudden disap
pearance of Zora. But will you look after the few
things in my rooms, and pay the maid and dismiss ?
If I did not give you trouble, you would not know
Penrose was stunned, but, knowing well her pas
sionate and wilful nature, did not for a moment hesi
tate. In consideration of the extortionate fee the maid
asked in place of warning, he borrowed, without
scruple, her name for the credentials inclosed, with
some words of his own, to Dr. Ritler, to whom the
" Argus's " assistant editor was known by reputation.
And not a line in his pale face betrayed emotion when
Rexf ord, himself much moved, bade him farewell.
" I am more than sorry that Jasmina continues ill.
It seems almost ungrateful not to thank my star my
only inspiration lately for all her goodness. I grieve
not to see her before leaving. Besides you and her,
who is there" (bitterly) "cares for my going? Oh,
yes j there is Jenkins ! There is always Jenkins ! "
That good fellow did, indeed, drink a bumper to the
prosperous voyage and return of his friend and col
laborator. It was only in a half-hearted way that he
went about his part in the bringing out of "The
Miller of Dee " in the approaching season. He would
have gone with a host of friends and admirers to see
Rexf ord off, but the latter objected to any " confounded
fuss." Only Penrose knew exactly when he did get
THE METROPOLITANS 163
off. Like any other hurt animal, he shrank from ob
servation, and in his morbidness was unlike the gallant
young fellow whom Katherine de Mansur had favored
and whom nothing but her supposed will could have
induced to leave her to another. Yet when the girl
read or heard any notice of his going, all her wounded
pride could not keep her from breathing a fervent
" God be with him, if we never meet again." If he
were all her soul had feared, he was at least turning
his back now on the mad whirl and riotous living of
the great city ; that, too, at a moment of brilliant suc
cess. He was adventuring something which required
strength and courage and manly self-denial. He
seemed to her fancy to be sailing away from confusion
and sound and fury up into higher, purer altitudes.
But alas! it was away from her, too, and her sore
heart felt that, in spite of rumor and eyesight believed,
and even that fatal visit, one last appeal might have
melted her ; but it did not come.
The Meteor, the expedition steamer, was already at
St. John's, but was detained there some days after
arriving by a delay of part of the equipment. Rex-
ford, after reporting to Dr. Ritler, wandered about the
town, then back to his room at the hotel. He had been
reflecting on his long separation from his mother, and
softened toward her now. Cold and unjust as she
seemed, she could hardly find the glittering social
triumphs of London, nor even her lofty ambitions for
a baby boy, compensation for slights and all domestic
infelicity. " It is a long trip," he wrote her, " that I
meditate ; and, as it is our last chance for the present
to send a mail, I want to leave with you across the
164 THE METROPOLITANS
ocean my best wishes for your health and content.
For myself, I have lost a hope which I think you
guessed at before leaving America; so mere life is
worth nothing to me, and I seek now distraction of
thought," with a few more lines, which he sealed and
addressed. Then for a long time he gazed from the
hotel window. He could see, over the waters of the
bay, the little steamer Newfoundland, which had brought
him, and the Meteor swinging at anchor off Queen's
Wharf. It would be there some days yet, owing to
this delay. With sudden decision, he sat down again
and wrote a note to Katherine, which he inclosed in
one to Penrose addressed in care of Becker. When
the latter, in New York, opened it, he read : " There
is still time to retreat honorably, and I am in no sense
indispensable. Dr. Ritler sails to-morrow for Upper-
nivik, but I am to wait here with the photographer
for some instruments not yet arrived. Penrose, if
she would call me back ! I have been thinking I have
been too easily content without more definite expla
nation ; but one cannot persecute a woman ! Still, I
inclose a note which I trust you to place in her hand ;
not sending by regular mail, as she may not understand
there is no time for delay."
Jasmina wrote at the same time : " Stephen, I have
been careful that he should not see me until we start
from Upperuivik, where we go ahead of him and those
waiting here, who are to follow us in the steam-launch.
Be careful at your end, for it is with my life I trust
you. I will not survive parting with him."
Penrose felt as though invisible hands drew him in
opposite directions. He shrugged his shoulders. " I
THE METROPOLITANS 165
will do just nothing," he muttered ; " things must go
as they will." He locked into some private receptacle
the note inclosed from Rexford; answered him, "I
wish you forgetfulness and a safe home-coming from
the far North," and resolutely put from him, with that
fatalism which was a part of him, the thought of an
unfulfilled commission hurtful to Jasmina ; while Rex-
ford tore to pieces and threw overboard the line con
taining, he supposed, the implied destruction of all
One hour afterward the little steamer was passing
the majestic cliffs through the narrows of St. John's,
and upward into the ice-pack bordering the Greenland
coast, and there plunging into a fog which retarded
progress and hid from them the glacial mountains
towering high along the desolate coast. It was only
when this curtain rolled back before the wind, after
they had been lying for many hours before Uppernivik,
that the native pilot could take them safely in. Here,
in this little cove, lay the Meteor awaiting them.
" I have used my week well," said Dr. Ritler, greet
ing Rexford. "The boots and skin suits are all in,
the dogs and drivers secured. There is small tempta
tion to linger in this bleak spot, though they tell me
that in fourteen years it has never been so green. But
what a scanty patch of vegetation, and what a barren,
desolate spot ! The fog kept you, I suppose ? Well,
you must see from high ground that wonderful Aug-
padlarsok ice-fiord, with its immense glacier front,
sending out its thousands of icebergs. But we start
as soon as possible. I am impatient to be off ; madame
almost as much so. She is quite well, yes. Her com-
166 THE METROPOLITANS
panion has kept a little close ; not accustomed to the
water, perhaps ; she soon will be."
At midnight, for it was now the season of perpetual
daylight in this region, they were speeding onward
through the sea, the bergs becoming more numerous
in their path. Rexford, at the bow, the frosty air
tingling in his cheeks, looked at the novel scene. The
sun, in all its brilliancy, sparkled on a few delicate
cirrus clouds alone appearing overhead. The neighbor
ing coasts were sharp, clear, and distinct through the
pure thin atmosphere, and their outlines were reflected
in the glassy water. The light pouring from above glo
rified all, shining especially on highlands to the east,
where in a ravine a torrent came plunging downward
over fourteen hundred feet through a cleft in the solid
rock. He drew a long breath. " We are sailing away,"
he said, in continuance of remarks to Mrs. Ritler,
" into a new world of enchantment." But the sighting
of a polar bear on a berg had drawn that lady to the
side, where a boat was being lowered for pursuit. It
was not her rather nasal tones, but instead a familiar,
softly musical voice which answered :
" Yes ; and it is not very cold, do you think ? "
He turned, and, to his stupefaction, there stood
Jasmina, her glowing tints made more vivid by this
crisp air, and the great friendly dark eyes, into which
looked his own bewildered, were widened by an ex
pression of resolution and soft deprecation commingled.
FTER all, Katherine, you need not look
so serious whenever I allude to my hav
ing married myself off. Of course it
was outrageous and shocking for me to
have even seen that so humble an in
dividual as Otto was alive, when I might have been
Madame la Vicomtesse de Vaurien, or else been trotted
out, on approval, by the Lavender-Pundit Trust Com
pany, or, perhaps, been hawked about the Continent
by mamma. Ah ! the idea was detestable. No, dearest ;
of course you could not mean that. It was not duti
ful, but if you had been tried like me ! And I did
know something of Otto, remember. Did I tell you
that mamma has actually gone to inspect the Feder-
lings, and dined with the ten sisters and the herr
papa at Castle Schlippenschloppenschlanberg you
need not laugh ; it is that. She finds the place very
ancient and picturesque, but damp and abounding in
rats, and would not advise me to live there. But on
finding that I may have 'baroness' on my card if I
choose, she has relented and forgives and blesses Otto.
She cannot come over, however, on account of Anas-
telle, for whom she trusts there is something lofty in
prospect. I hope it is no wretched De Vaurien the
poor child would marry the Shah of Persia if mamma
168 m HE METROPOLITANS
ordered her (she is the most obedient of daughters,
the postscript says, which is the only reflection the
letter contains on my misconduct). Papa will be over
on the next steamer to see me and interview Otto.
He is not at all afraid ; he thinks it will be interesting
to talk with a mining expert like papa. We may go
back with him, but we mean to be Americans; for
Otto promises to make his career where he has found
his wife, and he will be distinguished here, I know."
Indeed, her faith in her husband was very pretty,
and natural enough, Katherine considered. For the
pleasant-faced young German was studious and thor
ough, and really learned in his specialties, with great
simplicity of manner and frank demonstration tinged
with sentiment, which insured a half-amused liking ;
and her interest in this young pair was a welcome dis
traction from the heavy thoughts which followed every
stray word coming to her concerning polar voyages,
and one voyage in particular. " A line of farewell, for
old acquaintance' sake, would have been natural," was
a secret, inconsistent thought.
Said Mortimer to his sister (he had accepted her
astounding escapade with his usual philosophy), " Why
don't you get Miss Katherine to go abroad with you
when you go, and then I might join you."
Angelica shook her flaxen head thoughtfully. With
all her joyous chatter and bird-like flutterings in and
out, she had discovered that things were not well with
" But Katherine will grieve always for her father ;
she is of that faithful nature. I wonder if that dis
THE METROPOLITANS 169
The distinguished-looking cousin wondered a little
himself. Katherine had a way of parrying love pas
sages and discoursing on things impersonal which was
baffling to a degree ; and she wore at times an air of
weary coldness, as if she had already lived a century,
and cared for nothing more.
" It is her mourning," he decided sagely. " They
adored each other, my uncle and she." And forthwith
he began planning another trip for his mother and
the girl, with himself as escort.
The town began to wear now, in certain regions, a
deserted and desolate look, with windows shuttered,
front doors barricaded, no one in the houses but care
takers. Even the churches in this quarter, with few
exceptions, were closed for the season, these being folds
into which only sheep with golden fleece were gathered ;
and when these scattered for a summer's pleasant graz
ing, why should not the shepherds do likewise, leaving
others to concern themselves for the poor who are
always with us ? In short, as Mr. Pundit said, " The
city is quite empty now, don't you know. Society is
either at Newport or in the hills or gone abroad. Very
large New York contingent went over for the season,
so I 'm told, you understand. By the way, Miss Lav
ender, I see Mr. van Krippen's and Mr. and Mrs. Fed-
erling's names among passengers on the last steamer
" Her father called on me before leaving, and was
ahem! most gentlemanly about the extra expense
and annoyance and possible detriment to the material
interests of Franklin Hall caused by that ungrateful
girl's imprudent step. Otherwise, Mr. Pundit " (with
170 THE METEOPOLITANS
a gleam of vindictiveness in her eyes), " I should have
refused even to notice her again. I promise you, no
sentimental Friiulein Volmer chaperons my young
ladies after this."
" I hear," said the gentleman, thoughtfully, rubbing
a bald spot near the temples, " that her father dowers
Mrs. Federling magnificently quite magnificently."
He aUowed a sigh to escape, which Miss Lavender
heard with cold disdain. " Well " (more briskly), " I
shall be running down to Newport myself next week.
Shall I meet you there, my dear lady, this season ? "
" I think so " (demurely). " I need a change after
the shock of the Van Krippen affair ; and I shall leave
Madame Bonair in charge at the Hall. Miss Kilmans-
egg's people she is, you know, to marry the Marquis
de Mauvais Sujet, who will be there have taken a
cottage for us. I will chaperon her and arrange for
the wedding. Her father is quite unpresentable, and
had better stay in Oshkosh. He pays all expenses, of
course very liberally."
" I will be down about Thursday," said Mr. Pundit.
" There will absolutely be no one in town after this
Which might have surprised the thousands swarm
ing in and out and through and about the vast city if
they knew, or cared to know, what Mr. Pundit said.
The sun's beams grew hotter, and the long days longer,
and the baking streets dustier and more stifling ; and
the occupants of the human hive hummed and buzzed
and knocked against one another in the struggle for
mere life, which in the aged and weak and little ones
died out with appalling frequency in the narrow ovens
THE METROPOLITANS 171
which they call homes. And none of them missed a
dainty toilet here and there, or a well-appointed trap
which had disappeared for a while from up-town
streets. Only out on the waters of the bay or river,
or up in the verdant, lovely Park, could it be guessed
how nature had once smiled here for man, until her
face had been covered and hidden by humanity's toil
and misery and incessant, carking care.
Penrose and Jenkins were among the summer
workers who snatched but an occasional hour or two
for refreshing sail or saunter. " But we have always
'Simla,'" the latter boasted, leaning in shirt-sleeves
from the lofty window of his apartment. " If not in the
hills, I may dream of them." Penrose, walking now
much alone these hot afternoons in the Park alleys or
the shaded galleries of the museum, found his thoughts
wander sometimes to a note locked away in his desk.
" I wonder where they are now, and what will happen
when if they come back. Ah ! things arrange them
selves in life." The few people near saw a tall, thin,
worn-looking man, with keen eyes, veiled by glasses,
strolling among the mummy-cases, and even reading
idly the inscriptions to the ladies of the houses Taon-
Hor and Arshep, while his mind, instead of conjuring
up the Sphinx and burning sands of Egypt, could only
see polar solitudes. He little thought what had once
happened to his friend in this very place. The De
Mansur house was closed when he afterward passed it.
" Family gone to the Yellowstone," somebody had said.
" The Lotus-eaters " and " The Miller of Dee " were
to appear simultaneously at two city theaters in the
first of the coming season, which meant that he and
172 THE METROPOLITANS
Jenkins had more than enough, with regular duties,
to attend to. "I believe the music and book will carry
us through, Mr. Penrose," said Menu ; " but it was the
devil's own luck to have Jasmina swallowed up just
now. Such a card as that girl was ! I wonder what
struck her? I suppose she '11 turn up again some
time." He had raged as much over her sudden dis
appearance as the public had speculated. But time
pressed ; the inefficient understudy was relegated to a
minor part, and a French singer, just arrived, was
tried and secured for " The Lotus-eaters." There is
no leisure in this hurrying, bustling world to bewail
a loss ; it must be supplied, more or less fully.
So the long, torrid days and unrestful nights
dragged themselves along, and an occasional puff of
wind from the bay would bring a longed-for promise
of coolness. Then a stray leaf here and there began
to drop, and then faster and faster; and by and by
battalions of sweepers were kept busy gathering them
up ; and stragglers, returning from their summer out
ing, reappeared on the streets ; and though many of
Mr. Pundit's friends still shrank from the sight of the
beautiful slender white spires of the cathedral, and
lingered elsewhere until Christmas, on the whole, so
ciety was slowly returning.
To crowds at the theaters the two new Rexford
operas were brought out successfully. The cheery, the
stout, the florid Jenkins awoke to find himself, as a
librettist, effulgent with the reflected glory of the ab
sent composer. He ordered beers all round to cele
brate the event at the Chimes, and pretended to be
overcome with emotion at the tumultuous ovation
THE METKOPOLITANS 173
greeting him there. " Tears, idle tears," he quavered,
with a large handkerchief pressed to his twinkling
eyes; "nay, worse than idle, since these briny drops
would flatten beer already thin enough. Boy, another
flagon. Gentlemen, I thank you for this loud applause.
I know I have done well, but it is uncommon clever in
the fool public to have found it out. You understand,
my good friends all, that this remark is strictly con
fidential ; nor, should I ever see it with mine eyes in
print, shall I scruple to deny the allegation, and to
kick the allegator. Only a small share of the glory,
did you say ? Nay, my good lord, a word in your ear :
les absents ont toujours tort. I wrote the music too ! "
" How much beer did you have before you came ? "
"Beer, forsooth! Is that the nectar you had in
Lotus-eaters' Land ? The Miller and all his procession
fared better than that. Bring still more drink, my
lad ; and base the slave who pays for that or anything
while I am here ! "
With all this flood of nonsense, Penrose knew the
good fellow heartily regretted that Rexford was not
present to claim a lion's share of the triumph. For
himself, success was better than failure certainly, but,
having done the best he could with the book, he took
events as they came, without much excitement.
" It might have been damned as easily," he told his
neighbor; "it depends very much on the mood of
what Jenkins calls the ' fool public.' That very clever
English impersonator that was here, you know, and
those delightful French pantomimists they had no
success. Anything subtle is wasted on an audience
174 THE METROPOLITANS
over here." His neighbor remembered that Penrose
was not an American, and resented the criticism ac
Among the club dandies the appearance of the
French singer revived talk about Jasmina's sudden
" Good enough voice/' said Morty van Krippen, " but
not in it with Jasmina not a patch on her. Want
to do the little thing justice, though she was n't par
ticularly stuck on me. Poor taste, eh ? "
" Ya-as," came a languid chorus. " You 're not half
" But what became of her, old chappies ? That 's
the question. Nobody seems to know a deuced thing,
by Jove ! "
" Well," said Doulton-Minton, slowly pulling at his
mustache and affecting to look modest, "a fellow
does n't tell everything he knows ; but but town 's
deadly flat without her, and I mean to cut it myself
pretty soon, and run over to Paris." This hint was
received with mingled envy and admiration by the
" Devil of a fellow Jack Doulton-Minton," muttered
" Something of a liar too," said Ashley Vanderlyn,
in an undertone; "everybody knew the Hungarian
was wild about Rexford."
" Think she 's killed herself in some quiet corner
'cause he 's gone away ? " drawled his hearer. " See
here, what does that newspaper fellow mean that
Penrose by listenin' and glarin' at a man when he
passes ? Somebody ought to hit him."
THE METROPOLITANS 175
" Might not be a soft snap," suggested Morty. " No
body knows much about that man ; shady past, they
say; knocked about all over the globe. Killed his
man in Kamchatka, or somewhere."
" Did he ? " said Royall Worcester, with a fleeting
interest. " I don't blame him ; I wish somebody 'd
kill mine ; he 's so deuced stupid."
" Oh, come now," said Ashley Vanderlyn, " that 's
cribbed from one of the comic weeklies ; you know it
In fine, none of the gilded youth who had wildly
applauded the beautiful dancer's every movement, and
lurked at the stage door to watch for her, and sent her
masses of flowers, and hinted to their fellows that they
were favored in her smiles, not even the few admitted
to the charming apartments and gay little suppers,
cared in the least what had become of her. If she was
weak enough to have more heart and feeling than their
precious selves, so much the worse for her ; and whether
she lay ill in a Paris attic, or even cold in death, there
was always the new Mademoiselle Pas- Volants, more
accessible to fatuous admiration, and " no little, half-
savage, stand-off Gipsy, by Jove ! "
In the mean time the music of " The Lotus-eaters,"
and even the more lightsome strains of " The Miller,"
became almost as popular as " Zora." The box receipts
showed this in substantial form; and Jenkins, with
humor as mild as that of Mr. Peter Magnus, added
B. C. after his name, which meant Bloated Capitalist,
though cruelly misinterpreted as alluding to the date
of his birth. Katherine, coming back from the Pacific
coast, and the Federlings, gaily returning from their
176 THE METROPOLITANS
tour abroad, heard the melodies chanted and strummed
and tinkled and whistled in opera-house, concert hall,
Vaudeville Club, drawing-room, on the street every
where. It was at a private exhibition of paintings by
a foreign artist with a wonderful name that Penrose
first saw Miss de Mansur on her return. He had
paused to look at a gory and painfully realistic head
of Holofernes when he observed Katherine near by,
her cousin in attendance. She seemed to him taller
and paler, and took but a perfunctory interest in the
works of art.
" This is the most bloody object yet/' said Mr. Oof-
ton, with strong disapproval, " where all is carnage.
Why, it is worse than a Matabele skirmish ! "
" You should feel at home, then ; but cheer up ; there
are only fifteen more by the catalogue."
" Fifteen more nightmares ! Let us go ; these hor
rors cannot be good for you."
Penrose divined that the young man would have
liked to keep from her all manner of unpleasantness.
He was familiar with the report which asserted posi
tively that he had been given the right. The journal
ist's lip smiled cynically. " My nut-brown maid's warm
heart and loyalty are worth a thousand of these great
ladies whose love is fatal." The cousins turned to go,
and Miss de Mansur saw Penrose, whom she knew
very slightly. She stopped now.
"How do you do, Mr. Penrose? I find, after my
absence, your name on all lips. Let me congratulate
you on the success of ' The Lotus-eaters.' "
"Thank you" (briefly). "The librettist, however,
can hardly claim a large share of credit in an opera.
THE METROPOLITANS 177
You may remark that the orchestra here, now playing a
part of it, gets on very successfully without the words."
" That that is a very striking melody ; I do not
know the words." -
11 It is ' The House of Clay.' The words are not mine ;
they are some I fancied, and interpolated as in harmony
with the spirit of the score. It is good of you to take
so much interest."
" Not at all " (with an access of coldness). " I delight
in all talent, and I used to know your collaborator,
Mr. Rexford. He is quite well? You hear often?
Oh, of course not ; how could you from that distance ? "
A few more polite trivialities in a sweet, even, uncon
cerned tone, and she went away slowly, moving her
graceful head from side to side, down the lane of pic
" I thank Heaven," he muttered, " for my small ac
quaintance with these daughters of the gods. They
chill a man, even when he regards them least. The
frank 'give-and-take that loves for a day, a week, a
year, I have known ; but the best of sweethearts is
one's pipe. Yale Mixture is good enough for me ! "
He stared at Holof ernes's ghastly head, and saw in its
place a sudden wearisome panorama of a boyhood
in Wales, embittered with harsh words and blows;
dragged later hither and thither in travels where he was
neglected and misused ; and then cruelly abandoned,
and kept in life only through a Gipsy's pity. " I might
have been different if fate Yes, they chill one."
"Hello, Penrose ! " called an acquaintance, "you look
as if you had seen a ghost. No wonder, if you persist
in admiring that hideous Judith."
178 THE METROPOLITANS
And this girl of manner so chilling was in a tumult
of feeling going homeward, while she mechanically
answered her cousin's remarks. "No," she told her
self ; " no, no, no ! I will not buy his opera. If I hear
those melodies it shall be by chance. I will punish
myself that way, at least, that I was so eager to hear
his name that I would stop to speak to a slight ac
quaintance on the mere chance of hearing some news
of him of him, who has perhaps forgotten me. And
this good man devoted at my side, why must I deny
him for a mere memory?"
The Federlings came in that evening, with some
thing of the freshness on them of their flight over
seas. Angelica, after first greetings, began at once,
with gay complacency :
" My dear, you will be delighted to hear that papa
and Otto are the greatest of chums. They talk chem
istry and mining and such stuff until I am bored to
death. But mamma well, Miss Lavender is summer
heat to the way she tried to freeze him, and only
thawed when she found he did n't mind at all. That 's
the most delightful moldy old ruin of a place on the
Rhine, with ivy and beetles all over it ; and inside the
ten little frauleins, so kind and so friendly, and such
good musicians and cooks ! I think they were rather
shocked at my Worth gowns and command of pocket-
money. I mean to have some of the dear creatures
over here sometime ; but they will not like it. And
Anastelle ! I gave that poor child some hints which
may save her from any prowling De Vauriens. The
Venetian glass ? Oh, yes, I am glad you liked it."
Otto, who had been placidly awaiting his opportu-
THE METROPOLITANS 179
nity, approached Katherine with a flat package. " It is
nothing foreign," he said ; " only the music of the new
opera, bound, which is now out in Paris and London.
There was nothing new more melodious, and my An
gelica said you both knew the composer." She had
not bought nor sought this music, though the melan
choly minor strain of " The House of Clay " had been
pursuing her since yesterday. He placed the book in
the music-rack, and opened at that very place. " You
will try this for me, will you not ? " It would be un
gracious to refuse. She struck the opening chords
mechanically. "It is against my will," she thought,
and sang :
" There was a House a House of Clay,
Wherein the inmate sang all day,
Merry and poor.
For Hope sat, likewise, heart to heart,
Vowing he never would depart ;
Till, all at once, he changed his mind :
'Sweetheart, good-by.' He slipped away
And shut the door.
" But Love came past, and, looking in
With smiles that pierced like sunshine thin
Through wall, roof, floor,
Stood, in the midst of that poor room,
Grand and fair, grand and fair,
Making a glory out of gloom ;
Till at the window mocked old Care.
Love sighed : ' All lose, and nothing win ? '
He shut the door."
She had sung steadily through this with clear voice,
but it sank away on these last words. " You are too
tired ! " cried Angelica. " Otto " (reproachfully), " when
180 THE METROPOLITANS
you reach that point of ecstasy over music that you
stand with your mouth open, you would let a singer
wear herself to death without noticing."
" I am not so weak as that," said Katheriue, forcing
a smile, and continuing :
" Then o'er the barred House of Clay
Kind jessamine and roses gay
And bees hummed merrily outside
Loud and strong, loud and strong,
The inner silentness to hide,
The steadfast silence all day long ;
Till evening touched, with finger gray,
The close-shut door."
But Angelica was now looking over her shoulder.
" You must not sing the last verse," she said with de
cision. " It is quite too sad, though the air is lovely.
Otto, find something more cheerful. Katherine,"
she confided to Mr. Crofton, "is not looking as well
as she ought, after all that travel. She is still griev
ing, I am afraid."
" She will soon feel the good effect of your cheerful
society," said Mr. Crofton, politely, with whom Angel
ica was not a favorite.
" I don't know," she said abstractedly ; but Katherine
had summoned a smile, and was playing something
spirited; but her fingers were cold, and she hardly
knew when the Federlings took their leave. For all
these words, words, words suddenly seemed so idle
when, even now, the long arctic darkness was closing
around some one some one ; and a breath from that
frozen region seemed to blow upon her as she sat there.
THE METROPOLITANS 181
It was not well for Reginald Crof ton that lie should
have chosen just this time for the pressing of his suit.
" Forgive me ! forgive me that I cannot ! " she pleaded
quite piteously for the usually self-possessed maiden
that he knew. "It was wicked even to think for a
moment, as I confess I have done, of marrying you
without a heart to give."
" If I am satisfied"
" No, no ! take my word that it can never be."
" Never is a long day. But, Katherine, it is my last
time of asking, for I am weary now of hanging about
this dull town. If my patient months of waiting and
serving are to count for nothing There was some
thing grimly resentful in the regular lines of his hand
some mouth, for he had grown restive in the suspense
of the last year.
" Oh, dear Reginald, forgive me/' was all she could
find to say. And less than a month after he was on
his way to Matabeleland, and his mother was listen
ing to Archibald Pundit, who murmured sympatheti
"Ah, yes, my dear madam, these young men little
know, don't you understand, what their restless love
of wandering inflicts on those to whom they are dear.
I feel, don't you know, with all my heart for your
loneliness. Ah ! sometimes," he said, with a glance at
unconscious Katherine, "cruel beauty is to blame in
these matters." (Her aunt gave the girl the first cold
look she had ever encountered from those mild eyes.)
" There is Allan Rexford too, don't you remember of
course you do 'Lotus-eaters' and that, don't you
know. The rage, I believe, though I don't understand
182 THE METROPOLITANS
music and all that ; but a fine fellow, that I always
liked and praised everywhere ; but would n't listen to
a word against going off on some wild-goose chase,
don't you know, among the icebergs. And nobody
knows where he is, just when his mother most needs
him ; for it was only yesterday, my dear madam, I had
the duty of writing a letter of condolence to her on
the unexpected demise of the nobleman, her husband."
(He cast down his eyes decorously. It was not neces
sary, and besides would be disrespectful to the British
peerage, to relate to a lady the circumstances attending
that nobleman's sudden taking off.) " I hope my letter
may prove some small comfort to her. I have had
lately a little experience in literary work."
It was a fact that he condescended to furnish to the
" Argus " some weekly obiter dicta on matters of form,
which Penrose, on another page of the same great
journal, ridiculed so subtly that most people took it
" Do you mean to say that we are going to print
these solemn platitudes regularly ? " asked Jenkins of
"Where is wisdom and the place of understanding?
Not in the depth, nor in the sea, nor yet in the great
mass of newspaper readers. Mr. Pundit has many ad
mirers, and he owes me the small revenge of watching
him write himself down an ass," said he, and continued
to print Mr. Pundit's mental wanderings with heb
In the meanwhile that gentleman's letter, which
spoke of Lord Mellon's demise as a loss to the English
THE METROPOLITANS 183
nobility, and consequently to the civilized world, and
suggested him as a model for the youth of his country,
found and left the widow quite dry-eyed down in the
seclusion of Oudenarde. She had, indeed, been alone
there for many months before the lamentable event
which caused the coming down from London of a
special funeral train ; when, with solemn pageant of
woe, the body of Frederick, Lord Mellon, was laid
away with his forefathers, who could not rise up to
protest, nor yet to accept him as a weak copy, with
modern limitations, of the brilliant, dashing, venal,
and unscrupulous founder of the family. His long
absence had been a sensible relief to Lady Mellon,
absorbed in her little son, on whom her ambitions
were staked ; and she was scornfully aware that the
stroke which ended him came while he drove in Hyde
Park under the lace parasol of a chorus-girl. " How
horrid ! " the latter said, when told that her escort was
quite dead. " He might 'a' taken me 'ome first ! " But
she made a duty of composing herself before the even
And Lady Mellon, calm, stately, and unmoved, gave
her approval to a Latin inscription to be placed in the
village church, which celebrated the virtues and noble
deeds of the " warrior, statesman, husband, father, and
friend." The list of his recent debts was handed her
later, and, though she had had much experience in this
line, it amazed even her. The long some said pur
poselydelayed letters from the Queen, confirming
renewal of the title of Marquis of Gourdes to the little
heir, coming now, made her heart swell with pride.
184 THE METROPOLITANS
But the child had grown very delicate in the last year
or two, and was but a fragile little reed on which to
lean such weighty hopes. If she thought at all of the
strong arm and warm heart of the other son, wander
ing on distant ice-fields, she gave no sign.
P in the great frozen, silent North this son
walked now in perpetual snows. The
haunting care which had dogged his steps
in city streets was doubtless at his elbow
here, or lay in wait across each crackling
ice- waste or behind each shimmering berg to mock at
his heartache ; but the outside world was so dazzling
in its strangeness, so novel in its magnificence, that
it must, perforce, distract the outer sense, and almost
convince one that the planet was left behind where
weakness and passion cloud the air, and one attained
where all was fine and pure and clear.
That is, Rexford amended the thought, if one might
be alone with nature. But after a long sledging tour
over the lakes, or a tramp on snow-shoes through the
drifts, the wings of exaltation would be suddenly
clipped, and he knew he was on earth by finding the
Eskimo driver quarreling over his share of seal meat ;
or Dr. Ritler, good fellow as he was, disposed to find
fault with things unavoidable. The little party was
now ensconced in winter quarters ; a carefully con
structed house of fair dimensions, near the frozen
fiord, and sheltered as far as might be by immense
cliffs to the north. Through a break in these had
186 THE METROPOLITANS
Rexford returned only yesterday from a long sledge
journey. This was to be the last long trip until the
sun should return to them, for on this October day he
would leave them for all the dark winter. Rexford,
restless on this last day of light, had left the station
and climbed the hills at some distance for a better
view. It was cloudy, but through a rift here and there
broke gleams which gilded the high snow-peaks, while
the low-lying valleys lay in deep shadow. Then a
wind sprang up which tossed and tumbled the clouds
hither and thither, and gave a dissolving view of a
crag or hilltop here, and again of the harbor and the
outer bay there ; and the sun painted them in strange
and varying and fitful colors, as the wind and the
clouds would let him. The snow crackled under a
light footfall behind Rexford, and he let his eyes
wander for a moment from these marvels to Jasmina
stopping beside him. She was not in the least breath
less from the climb, but the exertion had brought a
deeper tint into her olive cheek, that was a little less
round, perhaps, than it had been, and her bright dark
eyes had a wistfulness now and then which it might
have hurt the absent Penrose to notice. She wore her
short crimson blanket skirt, tanned top-boots, sealskin
jacket, hood, and mittens with the same distinction
with which she had formerly borne her silk attire.
Indeed, her hand rested on the cartridge-belt and re
volver at her waist with an ease bespeaking delight at
escaping from civilization's restraints. But alas for
the Romany girl that it was to these ice-fields rather
than her native greenwood that her heart had led her !
Some shadowy thought of the kind must have crossed
THE METROPOLITANS 187
Rexford's mind in looking at her now, for he said ab
ruptly, " It is as much a surprise to me each time as
it was the first to see you here, Jasmina as though
I should meet a humming-bird perched on a floe, or
find a field of passion-flowers in the north valley."
"Yes," she answered simply, "it is strange to be
here in all this whiteness and barrenness and coldness ;
but I am glad I came."
" You are not homesick ? "
"Oh, homesick! I never had any special home.
The home is where the heart well, you know. Dr.
and Mrs. Ritler are so kind. I should tell them who
I am, but what does it matter, if I too love adventure
like them ? I do my share of work."
"Indeed you do" (warmly). "You certainly earn
your share in such glory as any of us is likely to get
up here, and in the little cubbyhole each one calls his
own indoors. I don't see how Mrs. Ritler could have
done without you at all ; but she must think us very
good friends on very short notice."
She gave him a long look which he did not see, as
he was once more observing the magnificent panorama
before him. A patch of yellow sunlight on a cliff
across the bay drew his attention to a moving object
there. " Is it a fox," he asked, " or a white hare ? "
" More likely a little brent-goose or an ivory gull ;
they have not all gone south yet. That light mist
floating about magnifies things so. The pack of wolves
that came visiting us while you were gone, why, they
seemed musk-oxen at least for size."
" Ah, yes ; I am told you distinguished yourself then,
Jasmina, being the only light-foot that succeeded in
188 THE METROPOLITANS
getting near enough for a shot ; but they should not
have let you try. I hear there were twenty gaunt,
hungry-looking brutes at that."
" Oh " (lightly), " there was no risk ; they ran away,
so that we only got the body of the one I wounded
after chasing him for ever so far. If they had been
walruses, now" (roguishly).
He smiled too, but more gravely, not liking to re
member the peril the two women had been in. It was
he and the Eskimo who had taken her and Mrs. Ritler
out in a kayak before the harbor ice was firm, and had
harpooned a walrus which had dragged the boat
through the new ice into a whole school of the mon
sters. It was something to put away for use as a
nightmare, that memory of the swarming huge heads
and grinding tusks and glaring, fierce eyes of the hun
dred and more furious brutes ; and the smoke of the
incessant crack of the guns which the women steadily
loaded and passed to them ; and the tilting boat which
the whirling, plunging mass of driving beasts threat
ened every moment to sink.
The pearl-gray cloud-masses sundered, showing col
ors of vivid orange and gorgeous red ; then slowly
rolled back, curtain-wise, and over the grand arctic
scene burst the crimson sunshine, rosing mountains,
cliffs, and bay for the last time this year. They were
silent and breathless until the red faded into yellow,
and that into light gray once more.
"See," then cried Rexford, "my fox or hare has
turned into a bird, as you said. It is coming this
way." He unslung his rifle as the bird flew through
the sharp air toward them.
THE METROPOLITANS 189
" No, no," she said, her hand on his arm ; " let it go."
" As you say " (somewhat surprised), " but I thought
you would like a shot yourself. It may be the last for
some time. In the twilight that has come their white
winter uniform makes bird and beast invisible."
" To think," she said, with soft impressiveness, " that
a month ago we shot those ptarmigans in brown and
black feathers, and now they have put on a spotless
" We are in a wonderful white country up here," he
answered lightly. " Perhaps all the dusky plumes of
our past will slip away from us too, and our souls take
on snowy pinions like the birds, to match the universal
whiteness." At the same moment he remembered
calling Katherine once "the wings of his soul," and
knew that in coming hither to escape poignant regrets
he had done a vain thing.
And Jasmina thought suddenly of a camp-fire and
clashing cymbals, and angry words and oaths and
shouts, and the flash of knives and a downward blow
and stillness ! And then of orchestral strains that
stirred the blood, and glancing feet, and wild applause,
and wealth of blossoms and warm-scented bowers.
But she had no regrets, and said quite simply, " I am
not sure I have a soul. But it is no matter ; I have a
heart to feel with."
"But not much light to see with," he said, with
forced jesting. For now the pale yellow had given
place everywhere to a light gray, and that to one
deeper and darker of hue. "The arctic night has
come. Let us go down. Give me your hand, Jasmina.
In the half-light it is easy to fall on these slopes."
190 THE METROPOLITANS
Across the hills came Dr. Ritler and his wife, who,
from a farther height, had also watched the going of
the sun. "Your companion, my dear," he said, at
sight of Jasmina, "grows prettier and more girlish
every day. One a trifle older and plainer would have
suited our purpose as well. Do you, perhaps, spoil
her a little?"
" It will not hurt," said his strong, capable, sensible
wife. " She is a great help, with all her prettiness.
There was no rush of older, plainer applicants." She
went into the house with Jasmina.
" You should have been with us, Mr. Rexf ord," called
the professor. "Our point overlooked the bay, and
before the light went we saw gamboling and snorting
about the ice-cakes forty or more white whales the
last of the season, I fancy."
" I had my gun ; I wish I 'd been with you," said
Rexford, with unmistakable regret, which seemed to
remove a misgiving of the professor's. "And look
there ! I appear to have missed everything ! "
The eager young college graduate who had come
with them as astronomer and photographer had been
out in a kayak with Jens to paddle. They were com
ing now from the other side, excited over something,
which was presently seen to be a reindeer, and the
soun d of shots came through the clear air. The animal
was wounded, killed perhaps, for, after struggling
along the ice-foot, it fell, half in, half out, of the water.
They approached it, taking extraordinary pains not
to lose game so late in the season. Down below Jas
mina came out of the house, and, taking a horn hang
ing there, blew a blast to recall wanderers ; and the
THE METROPOLITANS 191
sound, thrown from cliff to cliff, echoed and reechoed
until it sank into silence. Then, awaiting them, she
took a broom and swept off the few steps leading from
indoors. Her movements were as graceful in this as
they had ever been before the footlights ; and the shed
and supports of the lean-to made a frame for the slight,
crimson-clad figure. The surgeon, also a botanist,
came from the rear of the house, the tin case over his
shoulder filled with the specimens he had been collect
ing in the valley. Her clear laugh at some jest of his
reached faintly and pleasantly to where they stood.
" Our maid," said Dr. Eitler, " is unusual in every
way. Mrs. Eitler reports her very helpful, but quite
indifferent as to compensation present or future. If
we had had more time I might have doubted the wis
dom of bringing her. Is n't it rather extraordinary
that a young and beautiful girl should be attracted by
the hardships of polar adventure ? "
" Women prefer to do unusual things at this end of
the century," said Rexford, shortly. " I am not young
enough to pretend to understand them." The hard
ness in his tone was evoked by quite another than
Jasmina. As for her, after his first shock of unpleased
surprise at this unexpected link with the life he had
desired to leave quite behind him, he had taken her
presence very much as a matter of course. "Well,"
he resumed more pleasantly, " if she does not freeze
up here, fragile as she looks, she will always be com
pany for Mrs. Ritler when we are away ; and when we
get down to scant rations she will keep up the spirits
of the youngsters."
"No fear of that," cried the professor, cheerily.
192 THE METEOPOLITANS
" There is ample provision for our comfort until the
ship comes for us in the spring. Our high thinking
is to be done on high living."
As they approached the house the kayak had been
beached, and the Eskimo and the boys were bringing
the carcass of the deer up the path. Again Jasmina,
laughing, sounded the horn. " These delays must be
frowned on," said Mrs. Ritler, as they all came troop
ing in. " I have been indulgent in the beginning, but
mean to enforce strict attention to meal-time for the
sake of Mina's culinary triumphs and my own." She
surveyed the little table in the common dining- and
living-room with pardonable pride ; for it was quite
homelike with unbleached table-cloth and napkins,
and gay with the arctic poppies the surgeon had
"You will have us with you more than you wish,
perhaps," said her husband, "now that the sun has
"I believe you," laughed Mrs. Ritler, "for needs
the living-room, within doors, a great
Rochester lamp shed its needed rays over
the little group busily occupied in their
"I think," said Dr. Ritler, standing
back to admire the effect of the last piece of red blan
keting tacked up to form ceiling and wall covering, " that
our tapestry is something as unique as pleasantly warm
in tone. I envy no monarch his palace or its hangings,
now that this last heavy snowfall has given us such a
comfortable thatch. We need not desire a cozier home."
The photographer, arranging some negatives at a table,
looked up and smiled approvingly. " Now," continued
he, " here are some weeks of the longest, darkest days
away, and they have seemed as bright as bright as
our Mina, for instance." He beamed paternally on that
graceful creature's opportune appearance, broom in
hand, to clear up the litter he had made. She helped
him skilfully to hang up the flags, with which, on this
white arctic Christmas eve, the walls were to be further
"Is it a wild songster of the woods or a foreign
bird of Paradise that we have tamed into a household
joy ? " he had asked his wife once or twice lately. " Both,
194 THE METEOPOLITANS
perhaps," she had answered lightly, without imagining
that she spoke the truth. She had been won from the
first by the girl's charm, and to this little band, so far
from conventionalities, Jasmina's lightness of hand and
foot, and deftness in household tasks, and pleasant voice
and smile were treasures in sunless days and long arctic
" Come out," called the professor, now, tapping on
the partition from behind which came appetizing odors.
" Leave Mina there and come with me to the dogs' igloo.
It is time to feed them, and Jens is at the fox-traps.
Rexf ord and the boys should be in now with the sledge
with the ice, for the water is nearly out." He and his
wife passed out toward the dogs' snow house, where the
animals might soon have been heard growling and fight
ing over their food, and indoors the photographer and
Jasmina pursued their avocation ; but presently Jens
thrust in his shaggy head and called to the former. He
went out at once, closing this and the outer door, but
through them came to Jasmina a great hubbub of voices.
Her unreasoning heart leaped to the conclusion that
some one Rexford, perhaps had returned hurt from
cutting ice. There was no time for the usual outdoor
toilet ; she caught up a great fur robe and, wrapping
it round her, ran out in the snow. Instinct took her
along the beaten path for a while, but, though it should
have been a moon-lit day, the sky was heavily over
clouded and she could not see a step in advance. In
the direction of the dogs' house there was the sound
of barking, and far down the path, past the Eskimo
igloo in which lived Jens, two or three lanterns glim
mered and moved to and fro with the group there,
THE METROPOLITANS 195
whose voices came to her. She directed her course,
as she thought, toward them, but in her haste swerved
to the left, and then, with a misstep, stumbled and
rolled down the snow-bank, coming with force upon
the ice-foot. Stunned at first, she found herself un
able to cry out and became very weak. Then the group
passed along on the pathway above, their lanterns
swinging, and she could hear them laughing and
speaking of a white fox caught in Jens's trap, which
had been the cause of his excitement. She distin
guished Rexford's vibrant tones saying, "Best time
yet to bring in a load of ice from the two-mile berg.
Doctor, you and I are the record-breakers ; it is just
"How can you tell," some one asked, "until we get
in to the lamp ? You cannot see the face of your watch
at noon now, and your lantern 's out. Jens, get on ;
that 's a fierce gust blowing up." After that she re
The men were all busied for a while removing out
door wraps, and it was not until Mrs. Ritler had heated
the stew again and was about to place it on the lunch-
table that she suddenly exclaimed, -" And where is Mina
all this time?"
" I left her here," said the photographer.
The professor promptly went out, and after calling
once or twice tramped to Jens's igloo, from which he
came to say she had not been there. The wind was
now howling and hurtling against the outer wall which
formed a protected passage around the house.
" We must look for her," exclaimed Rexford. He
and the surgeon were already pulling on the snow- wet
196 THE METROPOLITANS
outer furs just discarded. The latter was the first out,
lantern in hand, and Rexf ord close behind him. They
went hither and thither, knee-deep in snow, about the
house, which, with its superincumbent load, looked like
a great snow-hill, with the lower white mounds of the
igloos close beside. When they met each other on the
foot-path the surgeon's face looked wild and anxious
under his hood. " Mina ! Mina ! " he tried to shout,
but in this boisterous wind his voice reached but a few
" She may have gone down the foot-path and fallen,"
shouted Rexf ord. He went ahead, flashing his lantern
over every foot of snow, and at last observed where it
was beaten down on one side, where she had stumbled
and slipped. Scrambling down the embankment, he
saw her form outstretched. He waved his lantern to
the surgeon, then spoke to her, and, receiving no an
swer, stooped and picked her up. The surgeon reached
them breathless, having fallen once or twice in his haste.
" Give her to me," he said abruptly.
" Let 's get her in first," replied Rexf ord, as shortly.
" Take my light too. There 's the bank to climb."
Up this they went, breasting the wind and snow.
On the pathway she opened her eyes, saw Rexford's
face close to hers, and murmured, "You were not hurt,
then ? I was frightened. I ran out to see." The sur
geon did not hear her words, but he saw her smile at
her bearer before she closed her eyes again, and he
ground his teeth. So strangely rough was his manner
to Rexford, in some few necessary directions about the
patient on entering, that even the professor was struck
THE METROPOLITANS 197
" Shall we have a little drama of love and jealousy
up here in the frozen zone ? " he asked his wife, jocosely.
" I hope/' she answered severely, " that we have left
all that nonsense behind us." She had suffered as keen
anxiety as he for the safety of their pretty Hungarian,
but her nerves began to feel the reaction and the
ptarmigan stew had again grown cold. She was
heartily glad the girl was not seriously hurt, but she
steeled herself against the grateful look in Jasmina's
great soft eyes when she closed them like a tired,
bruised child after her ministrations. " I shall keep
her busier than ever," she resolved sternly, " and the
spring will soon be back." But when the long after
noon and night's rest restored Jasmina, and with the
coming of Christmas morning she was herself again,
moving at her side all sympathy and warm helpf ulness.
she thought no more of these perplexities, but was glad
of such deft aid in perfecting their little festive arrange
ments. Late in rising, the two women were yet first
in moving about softly in the morning of the holiday,
decking as prettily as possible the table for the noon
day breakfast, at which the little party exchanged their
merry greetings. Dr. Andersen had brought all the
way from Uppernivik a little box of holly, carefully
waxed and kept, and Jasmina, accepting it, placed a
spray in her bodice and her dark hair and watched for
its effect on Rexford, whose eyes, indeed, were with
his thoughts this festive day, and that was far away.
To haul ice, help train the dogs, hunt, do anything
conducive to dreamless sleep, was well enough, but
these holidays were trying. He gave a sort of groan
When breakfast was at length over, hastening then to
198 THE METROPOLITANS
thank Mrs. Ritler for a pretty card, the only possible
exchange of gifts up here. Jasmina's to him was
wrapped in tissue-paper ; it contained her own picture,
smiling and glowing in Zora's Gipsy dress. His heart
smote him, remembering her aid in his success. " Good
Lord ! " he thought bitterly, " by what spite of human
nature is it that a man should let the unattainable
always spoil the present? Why cannot I make bet
ter return for these women's friendliness than by a
gloomy face ? " He kissed her hand under Mrs. Hitler's
" That was a famous triumph for us both, and I still
owe you much for my share."
She laughed happily, and turned with her old soft
daring to Mrs. Ritler. "He flatters," she said. "I
was the prima donna, but another could have done as
much with that music, he knows very well."
Mrs. Ritler looked from one to the other bewildered ;
but she had almost expected something like this.
" She sings, and has never sung for us at all ! "
Jasmina flushed. She had waited for Rexford to ask
her, fancying, without knowing why, that he and music
were at odds. " I will tell you all about it soon," she
said to Mrs. Ritler.
" The table looks very nice. All may go now for a
tramp. It will give you appetites."
Outside the walking party started for their tramp on
snow-shoes. A clear moon lighted the midday sky.
The two lads, going ahead, called back that they would
best keep to the beaten track, the snow-drifts being so
deep. Dr. Ritler kept his big pipe glowing and smok
ing between his teeth as he strode on. " How heavenly
THE METROPOLITANS 199
fair the cliffs and bergs and all this whiteness show in
the silvery light ! " muttered the big man, to whom poetry
and tobacco were the breath of Me. The wonderful
landscape was nothing to Dr. Andersen. He knelt in
the snow, pretending to find something wrong with his
ski, so that he might linger until Rexford and Jas-
mina came up. But the path was narrow for three,
and she was too joyously decided as to who her com
panion should be to make the manoeuver worth while.
He went on in sullenness, and answered at random the
professor's stray remarks, while the crisp air brought
back to him, as if in mockery, the youngsters' roars of
laughter and scraps of college songs. A line or two
of " The Son of a Gambolier " recalled to Rexford a
night in New York, with a noisy troop of students
shouting along the pavement, and Penrose standing
" I beg your pardon ; I was not listening."
"I was only saying," Jasmina laughed, "that you
might smoke if you liked." She looked like a small
bundle of furs, so enveloped was she in her long Jcoo-
letah; but her bright face peeped out from the fur hood,
little chin and rosy lips pursed up, and great eyes
" Take care ! " He held out a f ur-mittened hand as
she slipped. She laid hers on it a moment, then with
drew it. " No, I am not going to take help. Dr. Ritler
tells me I am improving wonderfully in snow-shoe
" Is there anything those light, clever little feet can
not do ? "
She laughed again, a tinkling, silvery laugh on the
200 THE METROPOLITANS
frosty air, with a wistful note which came from the
heart's great yearning for a word of tenderness rather
than compliment. They went on for a few moments
" It seems a long time," she said then, hesitatingly,
" since I have danced, and none of us sing any more."
He did not tell her that he had shrunk from all re
minders of that art, his mistress, only less fair and
adored than one other with whom he connected her.
But something in her tone touched him and recalled
Penrose once more.
"Why should you not sing and dance sometimes?
You will electrify the doctor and Mrs. Ritler ; the boys
will be quite wild with delighted wonder ; as for the
Norwegian surgeon, his case will be past praying
" Oh ! Dr. Andersen " (shrugging her shoulders as
well as she could under the furs). "Would you like
"Jasmina," he answered gently, "when one has a
little comrade like you, who has helped him gallantly
pn occasion, he likes whatever she chooses to do."
They met the others now at the foot of the hill, and
the racing, shouting, laughing, and talking were gen
eral on the way back. "Upon my word," cried Mrs.
Ritler, as they came in on her, full of Christmas merri
ment and rosy from the cold air, " I might have believed,
from the uproar, that it was a band of wild revelers
rather than one little white company ! " She was in
her best black silk to receive them, and wore a smile
of housewifely complacency, justified by the profuse
compliments paid her.
THE METROPOLITANS 201
" You look lovely, my dear," said her husband, with
enthusiasm, " and so does the table."
" Hear, hear ! " cried the young men, who presently
did full justice to this Christmas feast, for which she
had exhausted the resources of her arctic larder.
Rexford, to whom the Christmas mood had not
come, found himself wondering at the light-hearted-
ness of the two youngest men, now playing tricks of
legerdemain with the wine-glasses. He noticed indif
ferently that Jasmina had not, like Mrs. Ritler, paid
them the compliment of a special toilet, though she
still wore in bodice and hair the holly the surgeon had
given her ; and he thought of the radiant creature, as
he had so often seen her, in full dress at evening func
tions such as this, but in civilized confines. Yet her
early life, from stray bits of information accorded by
herself or Penrose, had been more unconventional than
this until she had burst into full splendor. And now,
after such varied and final brilliancy of career, to be
trying once more her Gipsy skill in cooking for the
little group up here under the polar moon it was like
the fabric of a vision.
"Will you kindly pass the nut-crackers, Rexford,"
said Dr. Ritler, "unless you want all the nuts your
"Certainly; they were of no use to me with the
special nut on which I was engaged."
" Drop it, then," counseled Mrs. Ritler, with a half-
meaning. She was of opinion, this practical, clear
headed woman, that singleness of purpose, and no
sentimental complications, best suited the purpose of
the Ritler expedition. And Rexford, filling his pipe
202 THE METROPOLITANS
and puffing great volumes of smoke, did not know that
while Mrs. Ritler was clearing the table and laying out
the wine and tobacco Jasmina had disappeared. Dr.
Ritler came in, stamping the snow off in the outer
passage. "Ha! this is cozy," he declared. "Jens is
fed, and so are the dogs. Nothing to do for the even
ing but smoke and talk. To think that it marks fifty
below zero outside ! Rexf ord, have you been tamper
ing with my pet pipe ? I thought you would hardly
be so mean in this latitude. Why Mina ! "
The others stared without a word, except the astron
omer's muttered " By Jove ! " Jasmina advanced into
a clear space where the big lamp's luminous rays fell
full upon her black hair, hanging down in two long
braids, crowned with a carelessly knotted scarlet hand
kerchief. Her dress was Zero's Hungarian costume.
Her eyes glowed like coals ; she smiled, swaying slightly
from side to side, her upraised fingers clicking castanets.
She hummed the opening bars of Zorcts first song. Rex-
ford winced ; not even when off hunting, with no one
but Jens or quite alone, covering with the swift snow-
shoe trackless wastes, with moon-lit noon sky overhead,
had he ventured to recall these melodies, interwoven as
they were with hopes laid low. Now, meeting an anx
ious look from Jasmina's eyes, he thought, "This is
a mere weakness," and picked up the ineffective guitar
which the young astronomer had been ill treating and
had dropped on the girl's appearance. He gave the
strings a bold sweep, while its owner called, " Lightly,
old boy," and Zora stood, poised, expectant.
Then, with no orchestra but this and the beating of
the wind and snow outside, and no background of
THE METROPOLITANS 203
scenery but the red color of the blanket hangings
brought out by the lamp-glow, the slow, undulating
measure of the czardas was paced. The tune grew
faster and faster, and the fantastic and barbarically at
tractive strains kept growing more rapid with her fly
ing feet. So perfect was her art and the charm of the
melody that a vision of the woods and tents, camp-fires
with old crones in attendance, nimble-footed girls danc
ing to clashing cymbals, swarthy men playing cards
and quarreling, and love-making seemed to come over
them. Suddenly the dancer stopped and stood quite
still, her arms straight down at her sides, her bosom
heaving, her lips still smiling. It had been so great a
surprise to every one but Rexford that only he spoke
now, saying simply, " That was very lovely, and we
" Lovely ! " cried Dr. Ritler, finding his voice ; " it is
fine, superb, wonderful ! "
" Lovely," said his wife. She was still bewildered.
Dr. Andersen, enraptured, called " Brava! bravissima ! "
leading a volley of applause. But Jasmina had re
marked the shade of reserve in Mrs. Ritler^s tone, and
ran to her now, taking her hand.
" See, now ; if you do not like it I will not do it.
I only care for you for a few people to love me. I
thought only it was a holiday ; it might amuse you all."
" My dear," said the elder woman, touched, " it was
beautiful. I was only wondering where you could have
learned to dance so perfectly as that."
She laughed. " Where do the birds learn to sing ?
But I will not deny some help from the conservatory
too. Mr. Raixfore will tell you."
204 THE METROPOLITANS
He was softly tuning and tinkling on the guitar
strings, but rose at once and, bowing, said, " Permit me
to introduce Madame Jasmina Vaskaros of the world,
I imagine. Certainly the star of an opera which I had
the honor of presenting to the public, and whose suc
cess was largely due to her ! " There was a great clap
ping of hands, in which the Norwegian did not join,
but looked with frowning brow at Rexford. " Now the
wedding-dance," called the latter. His blood stirred to
the music ; a certain excitement replaced the gloom of
the earlier day. He leaned on the partition, well in the
shadow, playing the opening bars. Again she glided
and swayed and glanced here and there the appeal
ing, delighted look of a child in the eyes which had
gazed indifferently on brilliant audiences.
"I am so glad you all like it," she said, with her
pretty accent. She need be no longer on the defensive
against heartless adulation or insolent homage. This
was a friendly little group. The spiritual nature, of
which she was unconscious, poor child ! seemed to soften
and grow. If only Stephen were here too !
Rexford twanged the guitar, humming a refrain from
" The Lotus-eaters." With breath recovered, she took
it up and joined in the duet.
" That you should not both have sung before ! " cried
Dr. Ritler. " Now our winter will be short indeed."
Jasmina had sat down ; her hands folded in her lap,
her long braids hanging to the floor, the glow still on
her cheeks. But the languor of reaction was in her
manner. She hummed suggestively,
"There was a House a House of Clay,"
THE METROPOLITANS 205
looking at Rexford, and he played the opening chords,
and the minor strains rose sweet and full.
The quiet that had fallen on them with her spell of
woven paces and of waving hands was even deeper
now. The wind had fallen, and the dogs slept in their
snow igloo, with an occasional sharp bark in their
dreams. Illimitable wastes of snow and ice surrounded
them outside, while within was the circle of rosy light
in which the singer's figure showed in relief against
dark shadows as she sang,
"For Hope sat, likewise, heart to heart,"
"'Sweetheart, good-by.' He slipped away
And shut the door.
Not the last verse on Christmas night," she said,
" It is sad," said Rexford, and laid down the guitar.
The Norwegian had hardly spoken all evening, but,
frowning, tugged at his fair mustache. "It is your
opera," he asked, "which madame used to sing?"
"Madame did me that honor" (coolly).
" Oh, no madame here," cried the girl. " Every one,
every one," stretching out her arms and laughing,
"may call me Jasmina."
" And as we have come back to earth," said the pro
fessor, "we will drink your health by that name in
" It is my part, then, to beat the eggs," she cried,
hastening to assist Mrs. Ritler, and the evening closed
in a joyous clatter and confusion.
"Christmas is over," said Mrs. Ritler, as the tiny
206 THE METROPOLITANS
clock on the improvised book-shelf struck midnight ;
" and soon winter will be over ; and the Meteor will be
here again for us, and we shall sail home again."
"As for me," declared Jasmina, the soft flush still
burning in her cheek, " I like it up here ; I should love
to stay always."
ANOTHER Lenten season had come and
gone in New York, and Mr. Jenkins
gravely assured his friends that a slight
decrease perceptible in his flesh was due
to a too rigorous observance of its rules.
" Perhaps it was over-zealous in me," he admitted, " to
take tonics to increase my appetite and then mortify
it by starving. But we society men are like that"
(with affected languor) "always in extremes."
" If beer and ale are tonics," growled the stock-re
porter, " I saw you take them to an unlimited extent ;
but I didn't notice the fasting afterward."
" My good man, do I live at the Chimes ? "
" Between there and your tenement, wherever it is.
Oh, I forgot. ' The Miller ' must have brought you in
a trifle. Perhaps you have a castle up the Hudson."
"Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?" (haughtily).
" Talking of society men," interrupted Penrose, " I
wish, Jenkins, you would go up and interview Mr.
Pundit before he starts."
Jenkins followed him into his office with a stare and
frown which might have been more effective but for
pale-blue eyes and flaxen brows.
"Why should I go ? Let one of the youngsters see
208 THE METROPOLITANS
him. They 're good enough for old Archie. Suppose
he asks who wrote that article in which he was alluded
to as a living contradiction to the law anent nature's
abhorring a vacuum ? It was on the opposite page from
his weekly maunderings, and must have stared him in
the face when he read them over, as of course he does."
" Oh, tell him that in a paper as large as ours yon can't
keep up with every one's news ; that you '11 inquire and
have the author called down ; tell him anything."
"Very well," said Jenkins, lapsing into indifferent
whistling as he clapped his hat on the back of his head
" An invaluable man in his way," reflected Penrose,
sorting his papers methodically ; " but very weak to
let these stupid paragraphers make his work as uneven
as it has been lately."
His eye fell on the file of exchanges, in which he
remembered such lines as these : " It is quite time the
Meteor was heard from. If unable from any cause
to send reassuring messages, she should return in time
for another relief vessel to start." " There is no cause
for anxiety, as some suppose, about the Ritler expedi
tion. It was clearly understood before the departure
of Dr. Ritler that he was provisioned for one winter
only; but there are said to be large caches in his
neighborhood, though he is unlikely to need them
with the relief vessel already on its way."
"Jenkins lets these croakings of uninformed scrib
blers disquiet him unduly." The keen-eyed editor went
on with his work.
And Jenkins whistled in the elevator on his way to
Mr. Pundit's apartment, which was a rash thing to do
THE METROPOLITANS 209
in this elegant and rigidly correct atmosphere, and
called Mr. Pundit to his door with a look of strong
protest on his countenance. He softened somewhat
when Jenkins, note -book in hand, and an air of rapt
attention, was seated opposite him.
"Yes, yes; I go abroad this week by the Elmira,
you may say. I have not visited Europe in two years
now, and there are certain distinguished attentions
paid me from the other side social debts, you under
standwhich should be acknowledged in person, don't
you perceive. Yes, yes ; as you say, it will be a little
hard for our set to spare me. But I have been down
to Newport for the last ten days, you see, making up
the season's program. By this arrangement, don't
you know, they may be able to do without me for a
short while. A touch of hereditary gout forces me to
try Carlsbad for a time. I hope, my dear young man "
(with condescension), " that you may never have that
reason for travel."
" I have that down," said Mr. Jenkins, innocently.
"No, no," coloring slightly; "that was merely a
reflection by the way, don't you perceive."
" Not " (composing himself afresh in a stately atti
tude and twirling his monocle) " at Carlsbad all that
time, though the waters are most highly commended.
I am told that the Duke of Wellington once tried
them ; and they are honored at present by many of
the princes and princesses of Europe drinking them.
The Prince of Wales himself, don't you know, has ex
pressed his august approval of their value. Lady
Mellon writes me that she intends trying the waters
210 THE METEOPOLITANS
for the little Marquis of Gourdes. So, you see, I am
safe as to society, you perceive. There was a little
matter I intended mentioning to the editor himself,
had he called." Mr. Pundit's tone implied that a slight
had been put upon him by Jenkins's presence instead,
but the latter still smiled blandly. " Instead of my
usual weekly article, I thought of letting the ' Argus '
have, from on board (I am fortunate in immunity from
" I should think so," murmured Jenkins, admiringly.
"Letting the 'Argus' have a trifle a poem, let us
say inspired by the ocean voyage, and written in
" In pterodactyls ? " repeated Jenkins, doubtfully.
" Certainly, sir " (sharply) ; " that is what I said in
pterodactyls. It is a measure I prefer, you under
The reporter asked Mr. Pundit how to spell the
word, and wrote it down carefully, muttering, " Can
such things be, and overcome us like a summer cloud ? "
The spirit of malice now gamboling unchecked within
him further incited him, on taking leave, to lay upon
the table a card which had been thrust into his own
hand on the street below, with the remark, "As you
are parting from your friends for a time, Mr. Pundit,
this may be of interest to you." It was a photogra
pher's card, with a hideous tintype attached, bearing
the legend : " This is what we aim at. "We pose you
in picture, or write you in song, for five cents, in five
"Adams," said Mr. Pundit, with deep disgust, after
ringing for his man, "take that thing away. And,
THE METROPOLITANS 211
Adams, you might open a window for a while. I
wonder why the ' Argus ' sends such persons here. I
shall mention it to the editor."
A highly embellished account of the interview ap
peared under the heading, " Pundit in Pterodactyls."
"But you will find it a boomerang, just the same,"
prophesied Penrose. And, indeed, it did dampen Mr.
Jenkins's delight a little to find the other papers de
claring that it was the " Argus," and not Mr. Pundit,
who did not know any better.
About the time society was suffering an eclipse of
that distinguished writer's countenance Katherine de
Mansur was talking quietly to her aunt by the fireside
in her little morning-room. " It is not your fault, dear
aunt," she told her, gently, " that your heart draws you
away. It is but natural that you should long for
a sight of your only daughter j and if Clara cannot
come to you, why, you must just cross the continent
to her. I feel very selfish that I should have kept you
from her all this time."
" My dear," said the elder woman, " my duty was
with you in your trouble. How could I leave you if
only" She stopped. It was an unacknowledged
barrier between them, the girl's rejection of the son
of whom his mother was so proud. " That her blind
ness or coldness should drive my boy away from me
again among those savages ! " " And it is not fair to
blame me," Katherine thought. So that a constraint,
fast becoming painful, had sprung up. Their silence
now was broken by James's announcement of " Mrs.
Federling." If Angelica's complexion and high spirits
in girlhood were attributable, as she maintained, to
212 THE METROPOLITANS
her always having her own way, this recipe was evi
dently still in successful operation. She brought a
feeling of sunshine into the darkened room with her
buoyant step and clear, high tones, and seemed to re
gard it as highly amusing that she should trip over a
footstool which her lorgnette overlooked.
" It is a trifle dark in here, but what a pretty fire !
I have sent Otto off to drive by himself for half an
hour or so in the Park. I insist on his doing it once
a week, so that he may have quiet and solitude to re
flect on how grateful he should be for me. And, do
you know, the dear, delightful goose brought me back
a poem he wrote, the last time, addressed to me.
Luckily it was in German, and I did not feel equal to
"The compliment was the same," suggested Mrs.
Crofton, who did not consider this flippant young per
son entirely good form.
"Her marriage, you know, Katherine, was in the
worst imaginable taste," she had once observed. " It
must take large fortunes to make these crude West
erners possible." "Mr. Pundit is said to have ap
proved her," Katheriue had replied demurely. Her
aunt's social canons were much narrower than her
father's had been.
"Yes," assented Angelica now, indifferently.
" Katherine, do you know that mamma has begun to
write the most affectionate letters to Otto, addressing
him as 'von.' She goes down to Cowes next week,
where the Squadron will be. All sorts of flattering
possibilities for little Anastelle. In the mean time
they have become English for the present, visiting at
THE METROPOLITANS 213
country houses in Kent. She makes papa go to
church twice on Sundays, and he writes me confiden
tially that he expects the fate dreaded by some Eng
lish divine, l to be preached to death by wild curates.'
Also that he shocked the portly Bishop of Titheton
almost into loss of appetite at dinner by telling him
he agreed with some one who said that 'Job knew a
thing or two if he did have boils.' Mamma did not
get over it for a week. Poor papa ! if he had no sense
of humor he 'd get on better over there. Who, do
you think, came to see me yesterday ? Miss Lavender.
She was quite friendly, and alluded delicately to ' our
little misunderstanding/ asking me why I had not
confided in her. As if she would n't have had me
under lock and key that day, and mamma cabled for !
She talked the fraulein over into promising to give
German lessons. She can get her cheaper than any
one else. I had to be firm, or she would have per
suaded her back entirely though not as chaperon."
" I should have liked Fraulein Volmer's company
myself," said Katherine. " Auntie is pining for her
daughter out in San Francisco, and I mean to let her
go after her heart."
" I thought you looked like a pair of conspirators
when I came in," cried Angelica. "But, Katherine,
the very thing! If you will have me Otto is no
trouble, and devoted to you why should we not keep
house together until, some day, you go to another's?
You would not like a stranger with you."
" Would you like it f " asked Katherine, taking her
friend's hand. Her eyelids and lips drooped a little,
for, with all her courageous composure, an almost in-
214 THE METROPOLITANS
tolerable sense of loneliness had been intensified by
knowledge of her aunt's slight estrangement.
" Like it ! It would be just heavenly. Then it is
" Should you not first consult your husband ? " asked
Mrs. Crofton, to whom the scheme did not appear so
" Oh, I arrange all those matters," said the young
American matron ; "but Otto adores Katherine next
to me, of course." He was, in fact, a trifle bewildered
at this new plan when she presently mentioned it to
him in the coupe, but entirely willing if it pleased his
blond angel. " To the ' Gilder Rooms,' " she told the
" I do not think the brother is always delighted with
these impromptu visits, my treasure."
" Oh well, that is because the last once or twice I
found him playing cards in bed. Morty is always glad
to see me ; his heart 's all right. Now you stay in the
carriage. I '11 be back in a minute. Mr. van Krippen
taking breakfast? Then I '11 see him," she told the
man. " Yes, it 's I, Mortimer. Nice time for you to
be at breakfast ! Why don't you wait until dark ? I
want to speak to you a moment. No, nothing wrong
and I had my breakfast ages ago." The man dis
missed, she took her brother by the lapels of his coat
and looked solemnly in his wondering face. " Listen
to me. Otto and I are going to live with Katherine.
Her aunt 's going away, and I won't have her with
nobody but a strange companion. But if you think,
Mortimer van Krippen, that coming there oftener to
see me will give you more chances for love-making,
THE METROPOLITANS 215
you are mistaken. I want you to give me your prom
ise that you will be only a friend ; for I will not have
our being there the occasion for the slightest embar
rassment or restraint to Katherine ! "
" If that 's all," he cried ruefully, turning away from
the gleam of his sister's lorgnette, "you might have
spared yourself the trouble. Fellows at the club are
chaffin' me now. Say nobody '11 listen to me since
Jasmina hoodooed me. Wonder what became of that
woman ? All sorts of wild stories about her. As for
Katherine, 't ain't likely I '11 take advantage of your
being there to worry her. I 'm a gentleman, I hope,
and her friend anyhow. And you know, Angelica"
(hedging a little), " if there 's a chance any time you
can tell me."
"Mortimer, you're all right," said his sister, warmly,
bestowing, much to his discomfiture, an unwonted kiss
before releasing his coat.
" If you won't have somethin' to eat," he grumbled,
" I '11 take mine, for it 's gettin' cold."
So, Mrs. Crofton having departed with tears, for,
after all, was it not her dead brother's only child she
was leaving! Katherine found herself with friends
who, in no way abridging her perfect independence,
supplied a delicate and warm sympathy. "What is
it, then, my Angelica?" asked Federling, after they
had been together some time. "Is it that the so
beautiful friend is always a mourner? Others have
mourned a father, but they find new affection after a
while. She will smile at music and many things, but
the eyes are sad. They look like Marguerite's when
she will say :
216 THE METROPOLITANS
Meine Euh 1st bin,
Mein Herz 1st schwer.
And what is it, then ? "
"Am I a witch that I can tell?" replied his wife.
" Her days are very full and busy, but she is alone in
the world. It was a good thought of yours, Otto, to
have the Thursdays again, with talk and music. That
will brighten her, perhaps. Some of the young fellows
who come are well enough to look at, and rich enough,
but no one fit for my Katherine. She is just a queen,"
averred this fiery partizan, " and shall take her own
time to choose among her subjects. But you must not
imagine things about her, Otto."
The warm weather came on apace, and Katherine
said, " We have surely had enough wandering about
for a while, you and I, Angelica. Would it be selfish
if I begged you not to travel this summer? Would
you find it dull if we took a little place on the water
somewhere in the country, but not too far from town ?"
" That is just what we should like," Angelica promptly
replied for both, "and Otto will see about it at once."
So they found a pretty cottage up the river, where
Otto, when not picking cherries or reading Schiller or
Heine, could run into the city to discuss the latest
discovery or invention at his club of scientists ; and
Katherine could overlook'her poor people from there ;
and friends, detained in town for one cause or another,
could come out in the warm afternoons to eat straw
berries under the trees. Morty van Krippen and
Royall Worcester were even suspected of foregoing
the delights of Newport or an ocean trip that they
might take Katherine out on the river.
THE METROPOLITANS 217
"I suppose you don't go down," Angelica said to
them, flippantly, " because Mr. Pundit is not there."
" That is why," said Royall Worcester. " I am not
quite in despair, however : I hear of Archie sometimes.
He is still at Carlsbad, paying devoted attention to
the widowed Lady Mellon, who hardly notices him or
any one ; for that idolized child of hers, his little lord
ship, is failing fast likely to die soon, they say,
though she will not believe it."
This was one of the times when Katherine slipped
away alone to the boat-house, and rowed herself out
on the stream, where her lithe figure, in black serge,
with wide collar and cuffs, was soon a familiar sight to
the residents along the banks. " I call that mean in
you, Miss Katherine," grumbled Morty, when she came
back, a little paler, with the shining locks around her
fair temples blown about by the wind under her boat
ing-cap. " What 's the use of the Athletic Club here
assembled, but to row you across the herring-pond
if you say so."
" And if she does n't say so to keep still," said his
sister, snubbing him remorselessly.
" Presumptuous little devil, Morty," was the other
men's mental comment.
" You hardly had time to miss me," said Katherine,
gently ; " and we may all go rowing later if you wish."
But, even with Otto to lead in German student and
boating songs, for which the others supplied an echo
ing chorus, this was not the refuge she so often sought.
What she liked best was to have the green meadows
and sloping, verdant terraces glide past, the water
parting under her swift oar strokes; alone, her eye
218 THE METROPOLITANS
seeing little of the surrounding beauty of the sky and
land, which nevertheless helped to soothe the imagina
tion tormenting her with dismal possibilities of days to
come whose dire hopelessness might count these happy.
" If I could only hear of him but a word ! " And
another inner voice, in shrill reproof, would answer,
" Of one who is nothing to you now who left you
without a word ! " When it seemed quite intolerable
she could tire herself rowing faster and faster. Was
there not always Morty, to whom no wrong would be
done, as to Reginald and others? For he did not
dream of ideals, and would be content with very little.
But she only mocked at her own pain with this thought,
regarding Mortimer gratefully as her loyal friend.
She had occasion to go down to the city a few days
later, and after attending to her special errand went
into a publisher's of music to order a new supply. A
tall, thin man whose back was turned to her was talk
ing with the proprietor, and an occasional word reached
her of " scores," the " book," and the like. It was not
until she had completed her purchase and was leaving
that she recognized him as Penrose, who raised his hat
on seeing her. She hesitated, stopped, and held out
her hand with the dignified simplicity peculiarly hers.
" Mr. Penrose ! it is a long time since I have seen
" We toilers seldom have the privilege of wandering
in the rose-fields which are your country."
" That would seem to call us others butterflies." She
smiled slightly, meeting the gaze through his glasses
which she had before remarked as singularly intent,
though not unpleasant.
THE METROPOLITANS 219
" I am afraid," he answered, " that I shall appear to
assent to that view if I express my surprise at having
this pleasure in July."
"I was tired of summer travel. We are now Mrs.
Federling and I up at a cottage in Witehwood." She
spoke on a sudden impulse. "If you have time for
trifling, we receive our friends there on Thursday after
noons, or, indeed, if you row, they come to us in that
pleasant way any afternoon, informally."
" If I may if you will do me the honor of receiving
me I will certainly make time for that." His pale
cheek had a slight color.
" We shall be glad to see you," she repeated.
After she had moved away he drew a long breath.
" She may be heartless," he reflected, " but while New
York held that woman, for a man to risk his life in the
arctic zone ! Lord, ' what fools we mortals be ! ' "
Katherine's thoughts were also busy in the train and
the pony carriage afterward. "Aunt Crofton would
never approve of stepping outside one's circle in this
way. But what harm can it do! His face is very
plain, but clever, I think. He must be interesting."
But the relentless, assured voice, which was that of her
pride, said scornfully, "He can only interest you in
one subject. It is in that hope you ask him." " Well,
yes, then " (in passionate assent), " I must I must hear
So it was that Stephen Penrose, after his first cere
monious call, got into the way of rowing up the river
in the afternoons and stopping an hour or so at the
pretty landing at Witehwood. To the other men lying
round on the grass or flourishing tennis-rackets, who
220 THE METROPOLITANS
wondered to meet an outsider in Katherine's exclusive
circle, he paid small heed. He had no care to form
intimacies with the club dandies ; and at his evident
indifference they began to say, " Clever beggar, I 'm
told. No money or family, but a power in journalism.
Good deal talked about in clubs."
" I should say so," another would answer ; " all sorts
of tales about him. Say he used to be a bandit in
Transylvania wherever that is. Kind that cut off
people's ears and noses, you know, and send them home
to their folks to hurry up the ransom. Queer idea,
is n't it, a light-haired bandit, with eye-glasses ? "
" Good Lord," cried Ashley Vanderlyn, " what rot !
The man 's a Welshman, and looks like a university
fellow. We meet him at the clubs ; I put Morty van
Krippen on his trail myself, on account of Miss de
Mansur's receiving him, and there 's no such shady
past. Wild lot, some of the journalists ; but this fel
low 's a worker. His manner 's quiet enough better
than yours, Dicky."
Penrose was rather silent in their company, and
gravely polite when he spoke. He liked to draw them
out about their prowess in polo or coaching. " Tut,
tut, my friend," said Otto Federling, observing this
habit, "you expect too much. It is only in German
colleges men go to study. Here it is all foot-ball, you
see ; and one must not be too hard." It was all one to
the amiable Federling what they talked about, as long
as Angelica and Katherine were entertained. He liked
to see their figures scattered about the lawn, while he
lay in the hammock with his favorite poems. He would
read these aloud, sometimes. Then, the others being
THE METKOPOLITANS 221
absent, Penrose had joined them ; and Federling was
overjoyed to find that this last auditor understood
perfectly his native tongue.
" Und hurre, hurre, hopp, hopp, hopp,
Ging 's fort in sausendem Galopp.
Is not that wonderfully fine ! " he would exclaim.
"Can you not hear the horse his hoofs clattering
over the bridge ? "
11 Very fine," would Angelica reply, drowsily. " A
little more and I shall be asleep."
But whether he read Burger, or gave them selections
from Shakspere, pronounced in a manner which must
at least have moved that poet's bones and so incurred
the threatened malediction, Penrose was equally at
liberty, from his low station on the grass with cap tilted
over his eyes, to watch, fascinated, the two fair women
moving gracefully about the lawn tea-table, or play
ing with soft-colored embroidery silks as an excuse,
maybe, for vagrant fancies which the bard of Avon,
weirdly disguised, could not hold. With daughters of
the gods, he had once said, his earlier lines had never
fallen. This might excuse the rapt gaze which included
in one harmonious, satisfying whole the beauty of the
soft, sailing clouds overhead, the swift-flowing river,
the fluttering little flags of the boat-house, and the
foliage which cast flickering shadows over a slender,
maidenly figure and head bent down over some bit of
Otto was making wilder work than usual of one of
the minor dramas, which owed its interest less to
grandeur of form than to its dealing with the eternal
222 THE METROPOLITANS
theme of which the varying chords and cadences ring
down through the centuries with never-failing music.
Katherine raised her head, and the light fell through
the branches on the waving chestnut tresses, and
touched the white brow and delicate mouth. " I think,"
she interrupted softly, " that must be the finest thing
on earth that close friendship between two men, pass
ing the love of women. The only thing, perhaps " (with
a note of wistful inquiry in her tone as she looked at
the two men), " which is quite unselfish and strong and
Otto burst into a poetic vindication of Eros's superior
power, which made his wife laugh tolerantly. Penrose,
plucking and throwing away blades of grass, was silent
awhile. Her words had conjured up an instant re
membrance of a tall, broad-shouldered figure, with
dark, clustering hair and frank, fearless gaze, who
seemed to lay a hand on his shoulder.
" In this very play, Miss de Mansur," he said then,
slowly, " there is treacherous breach of faith between
" I was not thinking of this so much, which is pure
fiction, but of cases given us from history and tradition."
He looked up at her now, and she met his gaze quite
directly, not knowing that he guessed at her wish
to have him speak of one who had been near to
" I cannot answer for history, which is as much fic
tion as anything else," he said, deliberately drawing his
long, thin form into position to rise ; " but we have the
omniscient poet's word for this :
O gentle Proteus ! Love 's a mighty lord.
THE METROPOLITANS 223
Well, I must be off now, or the office will be neglected.
Work 7 s a mighty lord likewise. What does some other
rhymester say about that ?
Work's worth is bread in hand aye, and sweet rest !
Sweet rest, you see, independent of love or friendship,
or any of those uncertain quantities. Good wages,
Miss de Mansur ! "
" I believe," she said, looking across the river, " that
I was not thinking of any wages or profit whatever,
but just which was highest and finest and most un
selfish and most enduring."
HE boat went cityward slowly under Pen-
rose's handling, for he was in no hurry
to dine this evening, with his thoughts
revolving around the girl's unconscious
suggestions. The twinkling lights, break
ing out here or there from this height or that as he
passed along, had always seemed very pretty to him,
and the way they thickened into sparkling electric
constellations the nearer and nearer he drew to the
great, shining, illusive city. But he saw nothing, un
less it was a pure and virginal and gently proud face ;
and now another, darker and deeper of hue, with eyes
looking unsuspiciously into his, of one who had been
dear to him nay, who was, after all, dearer to him
than aught else in the world. His pulse throbbed.
O gentle Proteus ! Love 's a mighty lord.
Of green-room dallyings or vagrant wayside fancies,
so slight that they left not a rack behind, there had
been a plenty ; but now, at this first dawning of some
thing exquisite and divine in which he had not before
believed, it was hard luck that loyalty loj r alty ? He
set his teeth hard. " Come, my fine fellow ! You have
THE METEOPOLITANS 225
never been a self-deceiver. Put things plainly. We
will admit that the emotion you feel for the bright
comrade of a year ago is still a near and vital thing
that you would make some slight sacrifice for him.
But do not plume yourself on this one, for the strong
est temptation is not yours. It is not your image
which dwells in this girl's heart yes, and speaks in
her eyes and voice. My only distinction from the crowd
of Morty van Krippens and the like is that I could
speak of him an I would. If he never comes back
then indeed ! Ah, poor little Jasmina ! Life owed you
He stayed out on the water long, forgetting his din
ner and the crowd awaiting him, as usual, at the office.
Jenkins was there, flushed and excited.
" You 're late," he blurted out at once. " Have you
heard latest from Newfoundland ? Officers and crew
of the Meteor made their way back there in small boats.
Ship caught in an ice-nip and crushed to pieces. Just
had time to save themselves. Say they left note and
provisions in cache. But great heavens ! they were
late enough in going, and now to come back without
making more of an effort to find the party ! You
know they were only provisioned for winter, and the
season 's well advanced."
" Another ship will probably sail," said Penrose, set
tling down at his desk.
Jenkins looked at his impassive chief and growled
out, " You make me think, Mr. Penrose, of a field I once
saw, with savage barbed- wire fence all around, and it
was carefully placarded besides, ' No thoroughfare.' "
" I will ask you for an explanation of your parable
226 THE METROPOLITANS
sometime when I am not so busy," said Penrose, coolly.
A messenger came in just now with a cablegram from
Carlsbad, and it read, " The young Marquis of Gourdes,
heir to the vast Mellon estates, died here this day at
" So that the lady's air-castles are quite, quite low/'
observed Penrose, pushing it toward Jenkins.
" Idolized the boy, I 've heard," said the kindly Jen
kins. " Our friend will surely be her heir now if
when he comes back."
" ' If when he comes back ' I must tell him how
cheering you always were. Will you work up a little
this paragraph about destruction of relief vessel ? "
" I '11 pass it on to one of the others," said Jenkins,
gloomily. " Give me that about the boy. Besides the
news there '11 be a lot of stuff concerning the previous
lords and their titles and honors and dishonors, and
some sic transit gloria mundi reflections. Pundit would
be good for that. You '11 hear from him now."
Indeed, the office had an epistle by the very next
steamer from that gentleman ; and, besides his weekly
stint of prosing, there was, to Penrose's surprise, a
personal letter to himself, whom he knew to be un
favored of Mr. Pundit. " Aware of your intimacy with
Mr. Allan Rexford," he wrote, " I apply to you rather
than the editor officially for any news of him. His
bereaved mother, of whose loss in the death of the
young Marquis of Gourdes your paper has been cabled,
is utterly prostrated. Informed by her physician that
there was grave cause for anxiety, I recommended to
him a mention of her remaining son's name, which was
followed, happily, by a relieving burst of tears. I hope
THE METROPOLITANS 227
now, through your services, to be able to afford her
information of his whereabouts, etc., knowing that it
will be to you, as to myself, a profound gratification
to be of service to the distinguished widow of the late
Lord Mellon and mother of the late Marquis of
" The plot thickens," said Penrose, with grim irony.
" If a man disappears, hurt by the slings and arrows
of those who owed him better things, then every one
wants him. The mother who was so cruelly unjust ;
the sweetheart well, that is a mystery." He prepared
himself the account of the loss of the Meteor dispas
sionately enough, though with a comment on the large
proportion of their stores it had been deemed neces
sary to bring back for so short and comparatively safe
a voyage. "They might be surprised to learn," he
thought, on finishing, " that I too have a stake in this
my only interest in life a few short years ago." They
were hurrying him for copy on the matter of the mill
strikes; for on this subject the subeditor's large and
just views were daily looked for. As for the freezing
or starving of a few people up at the pole, that was
naturally less interesting to the public. They were
not obliged to go, and, in Rexford's case especially, it
was a foolhardy thing. One paper remarked jestingly
the next day that, in view of the recent hot wave, it
would be more seasonable in the arctic explorers to
send relief to those south of them instead of requir
It was this one Katherine held in her hand when she
came across the lawn, tall and white-robed, to meet
Penrose on his next visit. It was the first time he had
228 THE METROPOLITANS
chanced to be alone with her, and she began at once,
forcing a smile : " It is encouraging to Mr. Rexford's
friends to you, I am sure, Mr. Penrose to find that
matters are bright enough with the Ritler expedition
to make jests about. Is it true that another boat will
go to their relief that it is almost certain to bring
them back soon?"
" Arrangements are being made, I understand," he
answered evasively. " You are looking a little tired,
if you will permit me to say so the heat, perhaps.
Will you let me take you out on the water ? You can
steer, and we will drift about in the shade."
" Yes, I should like that. Mr. Penrose," she went
on, when out on the stream, her white draperies settled
about her and the tiller-rope in her hand, " would you
mind you are so kind letting me know, now and
then, about this expedition ? Your information would
be late and reliable." She was not conscious, in the
effort of speaking composedly, of the pathetic contrac
tion of her brow.
" It is a small matter that you ask ; certainly I will
tell you as soon as I know, but that will not be long
before the published account."
" I shall like to know what you really think yourself,
who care more than the public."
" Then you shall, of course, though I shall only pos
sess the facts known to all."
She wondered afterward when she heard Mr. Pen-
rose spoken of as a cold, repellent man, remembering
how restful had been his companionship on this after
noon when she felt so listless and weary. It seemed
that he sympathized with her disinclination for words,
THE METROPOLITANS 229
with no obtrusive sense that the long silences were
unusual. When he helped her to land, behind the in
different quiet of his face, with her hand in his, was a
thought : " I am so sorry for her. I was never so sorry
for a woman before but once and then I was sav
The first russet leaves had begun to mar this velvety
lawn, and with the waning summer the little party had
gone back to town when he next saw her alone. He
called in Stuyvesant Square one afternoon, and she
came down at once.
"You remember my promise to give you all news
of the Ritler expedition. The government will not fit
out another vessel. They say it is too late in the season.
But we need not be too anxious about our friends."
" You remember," she said clearly, " they were only
provisioned for one winter, and another is coming."
" There will be the caches and game, doubtless."
" I read your article which said from the large share
brought back from the Meteor there could be but
He bit his lip. "An editor is not infallible, you
know." There was a few moments' silence. " I must
write to Mr. Pundit of this, but hope he will not alarm
Lady Mellon unnecessarily."
" That would be a pity," Katherine managed to say
with trembling lips. He was shocked at her pale cheeks
when he saw her again in a day or two. " I 'm not
happy myself," he reflected, " but her type will torture
itself with distressing imaginings."
" Katherine suffers from headache," said Angelica.
" Otto persists that music is good for it, and would, I
230 THE METROPOLITANS
believe, sing the whole of ' The Lotus-eaters' every day
for her if I would let him." Her concern for her friend,
with whom she was most gentle, took the form of a
sharpness bewildering to her husband and her brother.
" Mortimer, if one is not quite as rosy as usual your
one idea is going for the doctor. A change from
country to city air is apt to affect the complexion. You
might get her some orchids."
" Did n't know, you know, that orchids were good
for the complexion. But of course, Angelica, if you
say so. Glad to be of use." Which, indeed, he was
heartily. Otto too was distressed that his well-meant
attempt to soothe the girl's pain had been pronounced
futile. Penrose could not forget how cold had been
the slim hand, lying for a moment in his, on his last
call. He went about his duties more quietly than ever,
and irritated Jenkins unspeakably by refusing to be
come excited over important matters, such as the lame
and impotent conclusion of the great strike, and other
absorbing copy that came in. He worked one night
until morning without rest; then went up to Lenox
and had a long interview with the generous and learned
man who had fitted out the Meteor. " I am quite will
ing to help to the extent of my modest resources,"
Penrose told him.
" Not at all necessary," said the former ; " you may
be giving up your place in going."
" They may keep it open for me. In any case, I do
not care. We should hardly like to feel responsible
for their deaths."
" I might feel so," answered the millionaire scientist.
" I cannot see how you would be accountable. Well,
THE METROPOLITANS 231
the sooner a vessel is obtained and provisioned the
better ; for if they are in distress each day will count."
"Thank you," said Penrose, abstractedly. Going
back to the city, he made a Turkish bath take the place
of a deferred rest ; then went straight to Stuyvesant
Square. It was the eve of a church holiday, and Kath-
erine, in spite of Angelica's protest that she looked ill,
had gone to her church, where she knelt in front of the
high altar and raised her eyes to the cross ; but she
seemed too dumbly wretched to find words for her
prayer. The choir was rehearsing for the next day.
"Kyrie ele'ison ! Kyrie eleison !" they chanted again and
again. " Have mercy ! have mercy ! " something an
guished, repeated within her, though the outline of her
pure, proud features was not moved by a whisper. It
was late when she came out ; still later when she as
cended her steps again. "A letter for you, Miss
Katherine," said James, presenting it ; " and Mr. Pen-
rose has been waiting a long time." She took the letter
without looking at it, and passed at once to the draw
ing-room. Life was too nearly at a crisis with him to
be given to mere formalities. " I came to tell you," he
said without prelude, " that another ship is sailing. I
shall go with it. It is late, but we will find them and
bring them back."
" Oh ! " she said, drawing a deep breath.
"I shall not see you again before I go," he went
on hurriedly. "You have no message, if we meet
She cast down her eyes, and they fell for the first
time on the address of the letter in her hand. She
gave a great start and, exclaiming again, broke it open.
232 THE METROPOLITANS
" Shall I leave you to read your letter * "
" No, uo " (breathlessly), " if you will allow me." She
drew closer to the window, catching the faint afternoon
light on the paper, and not seeing the long, devouring
gaze with which he watched for the last time the fair
face beneath the wide black hat.
" Oh," she panted at last, " it is it is from him
written months ago. Delayed I can't tell how. But
if I had had it in time, he should never have gone."
" Is that the message, then ? "
" Yes " (raising her limpid gaze directly to his) ; " and
that I am waiting for him."
" That will bring him," cried Penrose ; " never fear.
From the gates of Paradise he would venture for such
merchandise. Good-by, then, for I must be gone."
" Good-by, Mr. Penrose ; and I will pray for your
success and for you too."
" Have I ever had a woman pray for me before ? " he
asked himself, outside the house. " I trow not. The
women I have known best did not pray much. I feel
a little light-headed, I think." He took off his hat in
the street and waved it toward the house. " Good-by,
Katherine," he said half aloud. " I would not choose
those clear eyes to look into mine after you knew who
had delayed your note, abusing a friend's trust." His
substitute had already assumed his duties at the office ;
but he had a busy day otherwise, and it was not until
evening had brought them together in " Simla " that
Jenkins had a chance to speak to him.
" What 's this I hear ! " said that easily moved young
man. " That you are going after Rexford ? At this
season, too ! Then you have n't given him up ? Then
THE METROPOLITANS 233
you think we will see him again ? It 's like the libretto,
though, isn't it ? " He began to whistle the refrain :
" He followed the Man, who followed the Mayde,
Who followed the Miller of Dee,"
but broke down. " I say, Penrose," he jerked out, " I 've
been misjudging you thought you were too cold
blooded to care whether that fine fellow we Ve worked
and played with came back or not ; and all the while
you were getting ready to go aftr him ! Now, too,
when it 's dangerous ! "
"I don't know what you are talking about," said
Penrose, coldly. " You 're too excitable, Jenkins. I 've
been pegging away at that office until I need a change
somewhere, and if I choose to take it that way it 's
nothing to any one. If we find him we '11 bring him
back ; if not we can't help it ! " He shrugged his
shoulders. Jenkins stared at him, discomfited ; then
turned on his heel, muttering, " He must be better than
he makes out, but talks like an unfeeling brute."
The papers recorded, in due course, the leaving of a
second relief party after the Ritler expedition. And
the " Argus " blazoned in head-lines that it was under
the leadership of a prominent member of their staff,
and spoke quite severely of such contemporaries as
made light of human life and thought that too much
time and attention were given to this handful of people,
who might very well get along until next spring. And
Katherine eagerly gathered every word she could learn
on the subject ; and, if it had not been for a certain
feverish restlessness, Angelica might have thought all
well with her again ; for there was a fitful light in her
234 THE METROPOLITANS
eyes and a spring in her step since she knew Pennrose's
mission and held, besides, the precious certainty that
her lover had not left her uncaring. The pride that
had made her, with merely circumstantial nay, infer
entialevidence, cast him off seemed now a thing of
naught in the great fear that he might never come
back to her. " Why did I not see him at least speak
to him?" she thought humbly. "Ah, I cared more
then for Katherine de Mansur and her dignity than
anything else ! And he he loved me always; I feel
it now," laying her hand on the paper which she ever
carried with her, and whose unfortunate delay she
could not in any way explain.
One day, early in this present suspense, she had a
note from Lady Mellon, just arrived, asking her to
come to her. It was hard to recognize in this pale,
mourning figure the brilliant, haughty woman Kathe
rine remembered. She took the girl's hand in hers and
drew her to a low seat.
" I have not been able to see any one before," she
said ; " but I am a little stronger now, and I must talk
to you. You know, perhaps, that all my hopes and
joys are dead but one, but one ! And that one, too
who can tell ? "
It was not possible to meet these hollow eyes, from
which dropped slow tears, with the keen resentment
Katherine had always felt for her treatment of Allan.
She was silent.
"I know," said the elder, taking her hand again,
" that I have no right to send for you to ask you such
a question ; but I thought once that my son now ab
sentcared for you ? "
THE METROPOLITANS 235
Katherine flushed crimson ; there was a pause then,
for to such regret as she divined here much might be
"He did," she answered, her fair head held erect.
"He does, I hope and think. We were betrothed,
though now parted."
" I was ambitious alwaj r s," said his mother, hurriedly,
" too ambitious, for my my children. I see now that
love is best ; and any parent should be satisfied with
such a daughter as you. Oh, if in the humblest home
one could only keep the loved ones ! And now he too
may not come back ! " The girl found herself with
protecting arms about the once unbending form, and
with the sobbing head bowed on her younger, stronger
" Then, if you think and hope as you say," went on
Lady Mellon, with recovered composure, " that brings
me to what I want. Why should you and I stay here,
counting the slow hours ? News will come first to St.
John's. Why not go there at our leisure, you and I,
and wait? It is so much nearer. Mr. Pundit, who
has kindly advised me in business matters and escorted
me back, thinks the idea rash. But I do not mind. I
should not think of asking him, at his age, to go there
in cold weather."
" O Lady Mellon ! " cried Katherine, flushing and
paling, and flushing again ; " yes, then ; I will go if
you care to have me."
" Angelica," she said, on her return home, " will you
mind if I leave you and Mr. Federling to keep house
without me for a while ? I am going to St. John's
with Lady Mellon, until we hear from her son. I am
236 THE METROPOLITANS
engaged to him, and if I have not told you before it
was because because
" I understand perfectly," said Angelica, never to be
taken by surprise. " You meant to tell me on his re
turn. My dearest girl, I hope it will be soon ! " " And,
Mortimer" (later), "I will not have you show the
slightest feeling which might pain Katherine."
" I suppose you think it 's the thing, when a fellow 's
lost a girl, to go the pace and give champagne suppers
in honor of the event ! " But this mood did not last
long with the good-hearted little fellow. " Miss Kathe-
rine," he said quite humbly, " I hear that you and Lady
Mellon are going to make a ahem ! a very cold trip.
Now maybe if I went along to look after the baggage
and that, you know, I might be of use."
" It is so good of you," said Katherine, gratefully ;
" but Lady Mellon has declined Mr. Pundit's help and
thinks we shall get on very well. But it is just as
kind of you."
With this he was fain to be content, and with Mr.
Pundit's confidential comments at the club that even
"Idiotic scheme, I call it, don't you know. Why
can't they stay at home and wait, you understand.
Suppose the party is all dead, no use to hurry to meet
bad news. Beastly place, St. John's ; get your nose
frost-bitten. If Rexford must go to a pole, why did n't
he go down to the antarctic, in the south, where it
would be warm, don't you know. Lady Mellon seems
a trifle obstinate. Between ourselves, my dear young
friend, very few women have any sense. I am still
looking for one of that kind, myself." His mind re-
THE METROPOLITANS 237
verted to the recent very evident appreciation shown
him by Miss Lavender, which had been soothing after
Lady Mellon's patent indifference. He went to see her
the next afternoon, and came away looking as if he
might allow that there still existed one woman of sense.
As for Mortimer, after seeing Katherine's party off
with a pretense of light-heartedness, he went in for
champagne and baccarat to an extent which came to
his sister's ears and gave him a bad quarter of an hour
with her, finally.
'R. RITLER and his wife walked briskly
up and down the beaten track in front
of their arctic home.
" It was a piece of work," said the pro
fessor, "to clear our path again. The
snow was lying on it thirty inches deep. The new
drifts are taller than I am."
" Ah, but what a pleasure to be in the air once more,"
said his wife, "and to hope that the storm has ex
hausted itself in these eight wild days. How the wind
screamed and wailed last night, and dashed the snow
against the roof ! It seemed that it must burst in. It
did find its way through every crack and crevice in the
outer wall, and sprinkled our indoor promenade be
tween the walls."
"We have been so busy with our sledge and ski
carpentering, and you with your cooking and serving,
that the long confinement has not irked so much. I
had a chance to revise all our scientific observations,
but had to thaw the frozen ink pretty often.- Never
mind ; it is clear now, and the shortest day well in the
past. Why, to-day I could distinguish at noon the
hands of my watch held to the south. Pretty soon we
THE METROPOLITANS 239
shall have twilight every day, and then his majesty,
the sun, once more ! "
Afar off the sky over the glacier had been one shift
ing, dazzling splendor. Arches of light, pale pink
deepening into crimson, changed and melted here and
there into curved ribbons of every shade from prim
rose yellow to deep orange ; and then again stretched
onward to the horizon in long, slender, pointed stream
ers which showed in lilac and softest green ; and all
these whirling and twisting and interchanging shape
and color in bewildering magnificence.
" It is," she admitted, " a gorgeous sight."
" Why, then, when the heavens are telling the glory
of the Lord, do you give so divided an attention to the
grandest spectacular display imaginable ! What are
you thinking of so seriously ? "
" Of my complexion, perhaps, which they tell me will
be, after this long night of months, as yellow as the
pumpkins of my dear native State."
Some others of the household had now come out to
view the aurora. It was Rexford's voice they heard,
and from the slighter, smaller hooded figure proceeded
Jasmina's clear, fresh tones. A second bulkier form,
which came out shortly afterward and stood near them,
did not speak ; so, by this light, Dr. Ritler could only
guess at its identity.
"See here, my dear," he resumed, more earnestly,
"I may be too optimistic, as you sometimes tell me;
but this seems a case where you are crossing the bridge
without having reached it. The night is nearly gone,
and I can still find work for my assistants near me or
out of doors, as you have been so clever in doing for
240 THE METROPOLITANS
Jasmina. Then there are only the evenings ; but we
are all together then, and the little witch uses her
charms and graces for us all alike. How pretty she
looked last night in ' Anitra's Tanz ' ! She keeps up
the spirits of the whole party with her music and her
charming ways. The spring will soon be here now,
and then the men will be off on sledging parties."
She opened her lips to answer, " And with one of your
few helpers developing so much ill will, what sort of
harmony is to be expected in your explorations?"
"Come in now," she said; "my skirt is hard as a
board half-way up, and the kamiks are, I do believe,
frozen to the stockings." She would not have the
chief, whose responsibility was heavy, too much dis
turbed. Yet to her woman's fancy it appeared more
than a minor annoyance that the Norwegian, ever since
the night Jasmina first sang and danced, had missed
no chance to show her an attention, which the girl
carelessly ignored, and to the others and Rexford
especially a sullenness and temper unsuspected at
" I think not much of that," said Jasmina, " that he
tries to devote himself. Men have that way. It is
nothing. I shall not care about it."
" But it may hinder Dr. Hitler's plans," said the wife,
" not to have good feelings in so small a party."
" That would be bad," commented the girl, thought
fully. " But what must I do ? I stay much with you
"You do indeed, and are such a comfort. But"
(flushing a little) "if you did not show not seem so
THE METROPOLITANS 241
friendly to Mr. Rexford. It makes Dr. Andersen dis
agreeable, I think."
Jasmina flushed not at all. "See, then," she an
swered quietly ; " I cannot do that. Mr. Raixfore is
my friend, and I do not like the surgeon at all, since
he is so cross. It is a pity that he came. But never
mind ; it will be all right." She stroked in her caress
ing way the sleeve of the matron, who was devoted to
her. " And now only a half-mile back !" The two were
taking a snow-shoe tramp. " How well we get on ! "
From that date the days lengthened apace. Now
Mrs. Ritler could not keep Jasmina so constantly at
her side, for all the great whiteness outside of ice-cliffs
and frozen wastes was silvered with returning daylight
in which no sun was yet visible. And one would cry,
"Let us go to the berg. We can do it now without
skis." Or Dr. Ritler would arrange that all should
climb to the ice-cap and see the sun appear, which now
cast a glow on the western sky. And Mrs. Ritler
would wander away with him to view the enchantingly
novel effect of sunlight on bay and hill, and would
return to find the Norwegian, with lowering brow,
listening in sullen silence to Jasmina's prattle to Rex-
ford. On this last occasion, as they were descending
from the summit in single file, Rexford, observing the
girl slip once or twice, endeavored to pass that he
might give her his hand ; but Dr. Andersen pushed
roughly before him and said huskily, " Turn about is
fair play. A chance, if you please." Rexford stared,
frowning, but Mrs. Ritler slipped her arm through his.
" What 's the matter with that fellow," he asked, half
amused again, " that he glares so ? That 's the way the
242 THE METROPOLITANS
Norwegians looked, I suppose, when they drank from
their enemies' skulls. Very bad manners, has n't he ?
If he gets impossible I '11 have to dip him in the bay
when the ice breaks."
" Oh," she said nervously, " he means no offense to
you. It 's just that he admires Jasmina, and she 's able
to take care of herself."
" Yes " (with a sort of careless friendliness she won
dered at) ; " but she 's been so good to all of us that
we must n't let him persecute her; that is, if she
does n't like him." She looked at him thoughtfully
once or twice going down the hill. " What should we
have done without you both," he returned, "all the
dark winter? It was a good plan of Dr. Hitler's to
bring you with us."
" He did not specially design to bring Jasmina."
" No ; that, I suppose, was a freak of that wayward
child of the sun. It is certainly a far cry from Hun
gary to the north pole by way of New York. But
perhaps she counts it but an incident in an adventur
ous career by which," he added gravely, "I mean
nothing disloyal to our little queen, abdicating for a
while to serve and cheer a band of arctic travelers."
" It is like a brilliant comet," said the practical New
England woman, surprised into a thought of poetry,
" flashing in our midst and as suddenly disappearing."
" Ah, that must not happen with our helpful little
comrade. We could ill spare Jasmina ! " He spoke
warmly, but there was a lack of something which made
her sigh to herself. He did not notice, being intent
on the sky tints. The air was soft and balmy, though
the sun was gone almost as soon as it appeared this
THE METROPOLITANS 243
first time. As they went down toward the valley's
twilight soon another aurora illumined the landscape.
They all stood near the entrance to the great snow
mound covering the house watching it awhile. It was
in slender lances of white light, tipped with yellow ; at
the side a pillar of rose red stood, changing after into
orange. " Those golden spears," commented Dr. Ritler,
" might be arms of the celestial hosts standing in battle
" It is bright enough to cast a shadow," said his wife,
more practically. "They call that polychromatic
foundation of restless, quivering curves, from which
the auroral streamers all proceed, the merry dancers."
" Oh, do they I " cried Jasmina. " That is a challenge
I will not refuse." She detached herself a little from
the group, and, even in moccasins and outdoor furs,
commenced some fantastic evolutions, in which her
shadow went bending and gliding with her over the
trodden snow, to her own whistling of some wild Gipsy
strain. It was oddly attractive, and they all watched
her pleased and laughing. " The gambols of a little
brown bear," cried Dr. Ritler.
" Come in now, Ursa Minor," said his wife, " and
help me with the supper."
The girl was flushed and radiant as she emerged
from her sealskin Jcooletah. She chatted merry non
sense while moving about the table, and teased the
Norwegian, letting him, to his delight, wait on her,
which he did very awkwardly. Later, her mood chang
ing, she took up the guitar, and began to sing :
" Once, when I was poor,
Love knocked at my door."
244 THE METEOPOLITANS
Rexford started and turned quite pale. "Do not
sing that, Jasmina ; I do not like it any more. I did
not know any one had the music."
" I play it from ear. I heard you sing it once. But
I will not if you do not like."
" By God," muttered the Norwegian, into his beard,
" that 's too much ! Is Mr. Rexford," he asked, " com
poser, manager, and censor in one? That was too
pretty to stop short."
" It is pretty," she said hastily and sweetly, " but I
do not know it very well ; I will sing something else."
She smiled on him in bewildering fashion. She had
never talked to him so much before as on this evening.
The sun now paid them longer visits daily, and the
men were much absent at the ice-hills and looking for
stray deer or ptarmigan, while Jens spent his time
watching patiently for hours beside the seal-holes. He
stayed with the women when, after long preparation,
the men, full of excitement and anticipation, set off on
their long sledge trip.
"We will keep busy until they return," said Mrs.
Ritler, " and the time will not be so long ; and then
the ship, and home home again ! "
" It will seem long, long until they come back," said
Jasmina; "but for home in the hard, noisy world-
well, there is one there I should like to see. You will
not mind, perhaps, the long shutting in. You will have
lived much in towns. You have never slept under a
tree with the stars over you. They would gather the
children, when I was little, where they were rolling in
the ashes of the camp-fire, and take them under shelter.
But I I would hide. I liked it better outside. We
THE METROPOLITANS 245
did not have much to eat sometimes, but it was free,
and we went and we came. See now, dear madame,"
she said another time, when they sat in the firelight :
" I must tell your fortune. You know it is a Romany
gift. You cross my palm with a bit of gold and here,
let me see. Dr. Ritler comes back safe, successful. You
will both go South again and prosper, and live long
Mrs. Ritler had a feeling that she ought to protest
against this heathenish practice and preach a little,
instead of which she merely said, "And your own,
"Not by the hand I cannot; but by the cards."
She went for the boys' well-thumbed pack, and shuffled,
and knit her fine black brows, and pondered, and
shuffled again ; then, of a sudden, threw the pack on
the table. " There 's nothing to be seen but snow and
snow and snow," she cried petulantly, "and that has
no sense ! But what will happen will happen, and now
I will sing ! You like < The House of Clay ' ? "
So well she beguiled Mrs. Ritler's solitude that time
passed swiftly enough to have the sledge party's
return almost surprise her. The leader was enthu
siastic over their prosperous journey and splendid
success in scientific discovery and exploration. But
when they were alone together, she asked quietly,
" What was the trouble ? "
" Oh, that stupid Andersen was perverse and wear
ing. Only for Rexford's cool self-command I should
have had much annoyance. I thanked him and begged
him not to notice the fellow's ill nature, as it would
soon be over now. He may be a little ' off/ you know.
246 THE METROPOLITANS
The long polar winter is said to affect the brain in
certain cases. He is indispensable as surgeon, too,
confound it! Well, we have seen no deer to bring
back, and I am sorry you had to use seal meat, but you
have both kept up on the other things. What are you
looking at, Jasmina ? "
She was in the doorway, both hands shading her
eyes, looking upward. " What birds are those ? " she
" Those black ones ? Oh, ravens."
" Ah, I do not like them. I am glad they are going."
" Come " (laughing good-naturedly), " you must not
be superstitious or morbid. You are thinner since
we have been away. We must take you boating and
amuse you now."
"I will like that," she said, with her pretty smile.
And very soon she was her bright self once more, and
the life of their little excursion, laughing and clapping
her hands with childish delight to see the banks yel
low with poppies and gay with anemones, the water
flowing free again, the ice-foot nearly gone, and the
beautiful green fields sprinkled with myriad blossoms.
On one of these occasions she had gone out with the
younger men in the boat and rocked idly in the cove
while waiting their return from where they had gone
inland with their guns in hope of game. Playing with
the tips of her fingers in the still freezing water, and
dreaming happily, she hardly noticed when a storm-
blast swept down the bay and a few large drops of
rain fell. Rexford came hurrying, followed by the
" The sooner we get you back the better," he said,
THE METEOPOLITANS 247
looking upward at the lowering clouds. They were
stowed in the boat again in inarvelously quick time
and heading for home. But once out from the shel
tering cove the gale came full upon them, with sheets
of rain and dashing and roaring of waves. The wind
was in their favor, and they sped on through the tur
moil, with great dislodged bergs rushing out of the
bay and tottering and striking against one another in
perilous proximity to them. Clouds overhead cast a
threatening gloom, in which the huge glaciers reared
themselves spectral and awesome, while the blast and
the overtopping waves came swooping down upon the
little party in the boat as though to snatch a prey.
There was hardly a word spoken, but, with faces grim
and teeth set, the men worked their sometimes slow and
toilsome and sometimes flying way ; but when at last
the keel grated on the longed-for beach Rexf ord picked
up the silent Jasmina in his arms and held her for a
moment before setting her down.
" I thank Heaven for your sake," said he.
"Thank you," she replied, with a breathless little
laugh, closing her arms about his neck, and the next
moment was fighting her way through the wind toward
the house. The Norwegian stepped out after her, and
no one could tell exactly how it happened, but sud
denly his gun went off and a bullet pierced Rexf ord's
fur hood close to his head.
"It caught in my sleeve," Andersen said hastily.
"I did not know it was cocked."
Rexford looked him straight in the face. " If you
handle a gun so carelessly you should not be trusted
with one," said he, turning on his heel.
248 THE METROPOLITANS
Now, day after day, some one mounted the hill
overlooking the bay that they might have the first
sight of the relief vessel steaming in. But the mouth
wore away without its appearance, and Dr. Ritler would
always say, " To-morrow, very likely." At last he said
to his wife, " Rexford and I have talked it over, and
we agree that the boat may have been delayed, or per
haps cannot reach us through the thick ice which still
prevails, we have seen, below us in the sound. It is
a late spring, after all. If we go to meet them through
the open water up here, it saves time. And and you
know our provisions were for only one winter. We
can reach, in any case, one or two caches while wait
ing ; and there seems to be no game about here now."
" There is a good deal of seal meat still, and a few
auks and guillemots."
He shook his head. "Not enough for another
winter. Another winter, too, with the Norwegian
shut up in the same house with Rexford ! Do you
think that was an accident with his gun?"
" Jasmina and I need not keep you back," she said
then firmly. " We are accustomed now to life here and
can stand a tramp."
All began energetically to pack the small amount
allowed in the boats. They would not admit, even to
themselves, that it could be anything but a slight delay
of the steamer. It was but a short time before the
boats were well down the bay, coasting where they
could, and with propitious weather making good dis
tance at first. Then it snowed steadily, and the ice in
the passage thickened, and it was harder and harder
to get through, and in one place Dr. Ritler stopped in
THE METROPOLITANS 249
dismay, for here towered in their way tremendous floe-
bergs, with no outlet around them. " This one is split ! "
called Rexford, excitedly, standing up in the boat. " I
believe we may go through ! " And they made the
wonderful passage through a split berg, the lane of
water being but twelve feet wide, though one hun
dred feet long, with perpendicular ice- wall fifty feet
high on each side. Beyond this again the ice-foot,
loosening, presented the constant danger of grinding
their boats. But just as they first began to look
doubtfully at one another matters mended. They
found the ice melted in a fairly safe though narrow strip
along the western shore, and Dr. Ritler decided to haul
the boats up on it, and with the rubber tent-cloths form
a temporary resting-place.
"They will easily find us here," he told Rexford,
hopefully, "and the women are much exhausted. I
must appeal to them for everything. That is a woman's
panacea to find others dependent on her for cheering."
Indeed, it was wonderful how Mrs. Ritler and the
fragile-looking Jasmina alike ministered to the others.
Jens went out in his kayak to look for walrus; for
their fare was scant, and the young photographer con
fided to him that it was " a queer feeling to be always
hungry." The younger hunters both came back badly
frost-bitten and were laid up. In two or three days
the professor said to Rexford, abruptly, " There ought
to be a cache in the direction I have marked on this
map, and it would be a most helpful addition to the
little we have left. Could you go with Andersen ? The
youngsters are helpless just now, and, though they need
the doctor, I do not like to leave him in charge of the
250 THE METROPOLITANS
women ; he has been acting so strangely, Jasmiua tells
me, and frightened her once or twice. Two must go.
You would be armed, of course, and, I think, able to
take care of him."
" Certainly," said Rexford, indifferently ; " he would
be necessary with the sledge."
The surgeon said nothing on receiving his orders,
and looked no more morose than usual. They started
early in the morning, Jasmina coming from the tents
where the boys lay to watch them out of sight. "I
saw that distressful raven again this morning," she
told Dr. Bitter. Why does he follow us ? "
" We may have to eat him," said Mrs. Ritler, trying
to make a jest of their wretched plight.
" I wish he would go away," repeated Jasmina.
It was understood that the two absent would be
back next day, and she languidly and abstractedly
discharged her duties. The second day passed, how
ever, without their return, and she could fix her mind
on nothing else.
When Rexford started on his journey he was agree
ably surprised to find his companion, though silent,
not obstructive in any way ; on the contrary, he made
a suggestion now and then helpful enough and to the
point. After some searching they found the cache
about where Dr. Ritler had supposed it to be, but the
supplies were spoiled. His companion shrugged his
shoulders and said, his first evidenceof strangeness,
" It makes no difference." After the night in sleeping-
bags they started on the return journey ; and Rexford,
climbing a small ice-hill the better to survey the shore
on that side, slipped and fell, and rose again and
THE METEOPOLITANS 251
walked on immediately, but presently felt his ankle
swollen and painful. After some further steps he was
unable to stand on it at all, and sank down on the
sledge he was helping to draw.
"This is a bad business, Dr. Andersen," he said.
" Perhaps you are strong enough to haul the load with
me added. If not, go on to the tents and bring help
" No," said the Norwegian, very quietly ; but some
thing in his tone drew Rexford's attention, and he
looked up at him and saw the gleam in his eyes which
had frightened Jasmina. " It is not worth while," he
continued. " I did not intend you to go back. One
way will do just as well as another, and it will save
me trouble now to leave you here. There is a heavy
snow coming, and I will say you fell from the cliff ;
and when they come to look the snow will have hid
den you safely away."
Rexford's hand went to his belt, but the other was
too quick for him. He snatched the revolver from his
grasp and sent it whirling through the snow.
" It is not worth while," he said again, " or I would
shoot you. It is a pity I cannot stay for the end of
the fine gentleman that held his head so high and
laughed and mocked, and cared nothing at all for the
pretty creature's love that better men than he would
have died to gain ; but the snow is coming and I will
not waste time ; for I am going back to her, and very
soon she will forget you, and I shall have my chance."
Rexford watched him going off with uneven, wan
dering steps, still talking to himself and waving his
arms. This seemed to be the end, here in the ice des-
252 THE METROPOLITANS
ert with snow now falling, and alone. He tried again
to stand, but found it impossible ; so, making himself
as comfortable as possible, just waited. He had heard
that one slept from cold and died so, but surely not
with an ankle aching this way. Meanwhile the snow
fell more and more thickly in a blinding white sheet.
At the end of two or three hours the fatigue and pri
vation of the journey began to tell on him in an in
creasing drowsiness. " This will not do," he thought,
and commenced to recite any song or poem he could
remember, clapping his mittened hands together ; then,
as the words mixed and tripped one another upon his
heavy tongue, he suddenly began to shout. Was it
only a continuation of confused fancies, or did a dis
tant voice faintly answer him ? He called again and
again. Had his enemy relented and come back ? No ;
for, now that the response was nearer, the Eskimo's
tones were unmistakable.
Presently through the encompassing snow came
Jens drawing a sledge, from which a little figure rose
and drew near, bending over him. Jasmina, who,
unknown to the others, had come in search of him,
asked no questions, seeing that from exhaustion he
was nearly unconscious; she quickly gave him some
brandy. " We must get him on the sledge, Jens." The
Eskimo grinned vacantly, his one mode of expressing
emotion. It was, perhaps, in some of the wild and
whirling fancies that had beset him that Bexford felt
her, in stooping to help, press a kiss on his forehead.
Her little mittened hands tucked the fur covering more
securely about him, and then he remembered no more.
THE METROPOLITANS 253
" I am going to help you draw/' she told the Eskimo.
" It is not far, and every moment is precious until we
get him there."
By this time the snow was thick to density, but
they had a sort of glimmer of light from the midnight
sun beyond, and Jens could find a way over trackless
wastes. From utter fatigue she would stop drawing
sometimes and walk panting beside the sledge ; and
then, thinking time lost, take her place again with
Jens, desperately striving to hurry him. It was about
two in the morning when they reached the tents, where
Dr. Kitler was anxiously looking for them.
" He is not dead, and I have brought him back," she
said proudly, with white lips.
" Oh, my dear child, go to Mrs. Ritler at once." And
while his wife gave the girl some hot drink and made
her lie down, he, with Jens's help, tended Rexf ord. The
latter came to himself in a little while enough to give
"Well," said the professor, "he had better not
come back ; and it is not likely that he will through
this storm and his wits in disorder. He will have
wandered off among the snow-drifts and never be
heard of again. Unfortunate wretch ! But keep still
now and do not talk." Outside he said to himself, " So
our physician is gone when most needed. Well, it
matters little ; for it is only a question of time with
us all, I think." His own knowledge of the simpler
remedies helped Rexford's vigorous constitution to
throw off in a few days the effects of the exposure ;
and the hurt to his ankle, proving to be but a severe
strain, was yielding to treatment. The youngsters
254 THE METROPOLITANS
too, recovered from their injuries, were about again,
" By heavens ! " said the photographer to Rexford,
" that was a fine thing for that girl to do."
When Mrs. Ritler next came from her tent on a visit
to the convalescent he asked, " How is it Jasmina has
never been in to see me ? "
" It was a trying experience for her," said Mrs. Ritler,
evasively, " and I am making her keep quite still."
Rexford made no reply, but a few days later said to
the professor, "I have been sitting up to-day, Dr.
Ritler, and can now walk a few steps with a stick. My
strength has pretty well returned. If Jasmina is ill,
why do you not tell me ? "
"Well then, ill she is very ill, we fear. I have
done what I knew, but but it may be pneumonia;
and here we are without a doctor, thanks to that ani
mal's madness ! "
Rexford was silent for a minute ; then said abruptly,
"Why should the rest of us touch the little tea and
pemmican left ? We are well enough to do with seal
meat. She will need the other things for nourishment."
"Yes," said the professor, huskily; "but the ship
must be here soon."
The younger men still went out every day with their
guns, though no game had been seen. Rexford the
morning after this limped out on his stick with them.
The photographer made a hasty gesture outside to
keep him back. "You 'd better not try the ankle."
But Rexford went past him, listening to a weak strain
of melody which smote on his heart and which all
heard from the women's tent. It was Jasmin a's voice,
THE METROPOLITANS 255
though changed by illness. She sang that verse of
" The House of Clay " which before she would not-:
" Most like the next that passes by
Will be the angel whose calm eye
Marks rich, marks poor ;
Who, pausing not at any gate,
Stands and calls, stands and calls
Why does he call ? " she broke off petulantly. " I would
not wish to receive him. I do not know any angels."
She resumed presently :
" Whom, ere the crumbling clay house falls,
He takes in kind arms, silently,
And shuts the door.
Ah, I like that. That is pleasant and warm." Another
moment's pause, and she commenced talking rapidly
and excitedly in an unknown tongue. The 3 r oung
photographer's face was working. " Come on," he said
gruffly to the astronomer. " We shall not shoot much
standing here." Rexford remained where they left
him in the dazzling sunlight. The creaking and groan
ing of broken ice in the bay went on, and the yellow
glare of the endless snow seemed mocking him. Mrs.
Ritler came outside her tent for a moment. She had
been weeping. He beckoned to her and she came.
11 1 wish," he said, " that I might have thanked her
while she knew."
" She may be conscious soon," said Mrs. Ritler, with
a sob, " but my husband thinks the end is near. I will
call you if if she knows any one again."
She hurried back. Jens was out in his kayak ; the
256 THE METROPOLITANS
hunters were still away. Rexf ord sat in and out of his
tent for several hours, scarcely thinking. Then Dr.
Ritler called him:
" She will know you now."
So sudden and acute had been this attack that she
was hardly wasted. When he approached her low
couch of skins there was a gleam of pleasure in her
eyes again. He clasped her hand in both of his, but
she whispered first, brokenly, " How glad I am and
proud that I went for you ! Now you know why I
came up here in the snow."
" Jasmina dear, I was not worth the price of your
warm, bright life ! "
"I think so; but I am so tired." She lay awhile
silent, her hand in his, Dr. and Mrs. Ritler coming and
going quietly. Then the long dark lashes lifted once
more from the olive cheek, and the great, soft, dark
eyes looked longingly into his. "You might," she
breathed, "kiss me good night." He bent over her,
and presently Jasmina went to sleep for the last time.
|HEY laid her reverently under the snow
at the foot of the nearest cliff; and it
seemed as though in the little white
mound were put away what light and
warmth had kept up their courage until
now. Their small stock of provisions grew more and
more scanty; their hollow cheeks showed the ever-
present craving which distressed them. The men res
olutely set aside certain articles from their miserable
supply for Mrs. Ritler, and even now she would resort
to touching stratagem to share these portions with her
husband and the others. They were too weak to think
of moving farther southward, even if the boats had
not been gradually broken up for firewood. And an
other misfortune came to them when poor, devoted
Jens, venturing too far among the broken ice after
walrus, was capsized and seen no more. The little
party of five kept up but a hollow pretense of bravery
now, as time went on without succor ; and the glass fall
ing and the snow drifting into the tents showed them
the flight of summer ; and the cold, which hunger made
them feel more keenly, increased.
One night they had all been unable to sleep for the
storm, which threatened to snatch their wretched
258 THE METROPOLITANS
shelter from overhead, and the spray from the inlet
and even waves rolled in, wetting and freezing. With
the morning came calm and the possibility of a little
heat to warm their few mouthfuls. " I am quite sure,"
said Dr. Ritler to Rexford, " we are abandoned for this
year which means forever."
" I still think," said Rexford, calmly, " that they will
come perhaps because I do not care much, except for
you and the others." He took his gun, from force of
habit, and dragged himself up the hill overlooking the
bay before turning in for needful rest. His eyes, like
those of his companions, had been somewhat affected
by the snow-glare, and he did not wholly trust them ;
but surely it was smoke that he saw rising faintly from
the open water far below the smoke of a vessel; and
surely that was her whistle now. He shouted with all
the strength left him ; he raised his gun above his head
and waved it. They saw him, dark against the ice-
cliffs, heard him, and shouted and whistled again in
return. He went back to the tents and met Dr. Ritler
" They have come for us," he told him. " Your wife
is saved." She heard him from inside, and, overcome
after long suspense, became unconscious.
"It does not matter," said the professor, brokenly,
tending her. " Joy will not kill."
There was soon the rush of sympathizing, minister
ing officers from the boat. But Rexford had eyes for
only one ; a tall, thin figure, a light-haired man with
eye-glasses, who came swiftly over the crackling snow
and seized his hands and looked into his eyes and
threw his arms around him.
THE METROPOLITANS 259
" Penrose ! " cried Rexford, stupefied.
" Lad, lad ! " said his comrade of the past, " I began
to fear we should not find you ! " Then he looked to
ward the only female figure, about whom the little
crowd clustered. "Jasmins?"
The little snow mound, with flag as headstone, was
in bright yellow light. Rexford drew him apart and
motioned to it.
" Ah ! " He shrank as from a blow ; then walked
slowly to the mound and looked down on it for a few
" Mrs. Ritler will tell you," muttered Rexford ; " I
The tender, enlightened care they received, the quiet
and assured safety which was their portion as passen
gers on the sturdy vessel forcing its way toward home
through the stubborn ice, soon restored calmness and
strength to those who, happily, had not reached the
lowest ebb. As a time and place of preparation before
too sudden a transition to the different world this
voyage was invaluable. Beyond an unusual spareness
of form and a slight limp, Rexford had recovered some
of his old-time appearance before they steamed into St.
John's again. " The captain tells me," he said to Pen-
rose, " that he shall stay in harbor a few days ; but if
we prefer to hurry we may return by the steamer we
shall meet as we go in."
" And which will you choose ? "
" Whichever you do, of course. Penrose, the officers
have just told me what I might have known. Instead
of merely accompanying this relief party it is practi
cally yours, instituted and carried out through your
260 THE METROPOLITANS
idea and energy, when otherwise there was not a chance
for us. And you think, after that, that we could go
back in any way but together ! "
It was the older man that might now have been mis
taken for the rescued instead of the rescuer, a certain
melancholy gravity having settled upon him, and an
inscrutable expression which would have puzzled Rex-
ford but that he was watching the outgoing steamer's
approach. He presently went forward, leaving Pen-
rose ; for, as the others of the exploring party left by
this boat, there was much to be said, after all they had
undergone together, to the Ritlers and the young men
promises of continued interest, pledges of future
meetings ; and all knew too well the uncertainty of Me
and human affairs to count very much on what they
He was still calling and waving to them when a
bundle of mail was tossed from the deck of their vessel.
He did not observe, as he gazed after the receding f onns
of his friends, that the captain, passing him, handed a
letter to Penrose. It was to the latter an unknown
hand, and opening it he looked, as one does, at the
signature first, which was "Frances, Lady Mellon."
She wrote to him : " You will see, dear Mr. Penrose,
that this is dated from St. John's, where for many
weary weeks we have been waiting for some sign of
you. And that you should come in at last, having
fulfilled your noble promise and been his savior! I
must wait to see you before I can tell you what thanks
are in my heart. I have with me my son's betrothed,
Miss de Mansur, but, as we have no particulars of his
rescue beyond his being alive, we will not venture
THE METROPOLITANS 261
among the welcoming crowd that will meet you at the
wharf, fearing that it might agitate him if much en
feebled. We have strained our eyes many hours
watching for the steamer, and now wait your coming
in our rooms at the Queen's Hotel. You will tell him,
please, and believe me, your most grateful," etc.
There was a postscript at the foot of this : " May God
reward you, Mr. Penrose," signed "K. DE M." He
smiled drearily, looking out over the water. " Perhaps
He has in taking from me the one creature on whom
I had a rightful claim." He detached the postscript
from the rest of the writing and placed it carefully in
his note-book, and tore up and threw away the rest.
The receding steamer was far out on the bay now,
and the town was assuming shape and outlines. They
had the after part of the deck to themselves, the others
crowding forward. There was to be some delay in
getting in ; they did not inquire into the cause.
" Do you know, Penrose, I am more than loath to
return to civilization ? What can it give me ? I was
so tired of it when I went north ! "
"Will you break loose again, then" (mockingly),
" and come with me ? "
" If any man turns ass,
Leaving his wealth and ease
A stubborn will to please,
There shall he see
Gross fools as he
I beg your pardon, my dear fellow" (relapsing into
his habitual gravity) ; " I was convinced that you left
262 THE METROPOLITANS
behind you the last time most that makes life worth
Rexford looked at him, questioning.
" It is in the snow," said Penrose, calmly, " that /
have left my nearest." His companion continued to
look at him. Penrose laid his hand on the rail, gazing
at the softly lapping waves. " Jasmina was my sister,
you know ; or perhaps I never told you."
" Well, yes. The same father. And when he went
off and left her Gipsy mother and me too quite
friendless, that kind creature saved me from much ill
treatment when she might have hated me, too; for
I was said to look like him. Well, the least I could
do was to befriend the little daughter when the mother
died ; and afterward, when I came back and found her
still a child married to a brute of her tribe, I would n't
leave her, but stood between her and his violence as
much as I could. The end came abruptly one day.
She was really too soft and slight a thing for him to
be so cruel ; I killed him when he drew a knife." There
was a pause for a moment or two. " After that it was
better to go and take her away from all of them. I
had her taught, and with her beauty and gifts success
was an easy matter. I was very fond of her."
" If my lif e could have saved hers ! " said Rexford,
" She was the only being I cared for until I met
you, lad. To lose both but I will not have you ; you
shall not come with me. There is your mother, you
" Yes " (dryly) ; " she is a long way off."
THE METEOPOLITANS 263
" Not so far as you think. She crossed to New York
to seek for news of you."
" Ah " (softening a little), " you did not tell me."
"No. I am giving you home news as they gave you
food at first little by little, not to shock the system.
What should you say if she were waiting for you in
the town here eagerly waiting ? "
Rexford flushed. There would, after all, be some
one of his own to welcome him back to life ! His mood
became daring. " Tell me," he cried, going close to
Penrose, "of other friends too."
" Of Miss de Mansur, do you mean ? I saw her be
fore leaving. She bade me tell you she was waiting
Rexford turned his back to walk the length of the
deck. He returned with crest upreared almost as of
"Are you quite, quite sure?"
"As sure as that your world begins afresh. I am
fairly sure of one thing more that she waits for you
in the town here with your mother."
Again Rexford turned his back. The ship was near-
ing shore rapidly now. It seemed to the captain and
others that Mr. Rexford might restrain his impatience a
little better. His mother was in St. John's ? oh ! that
was different. How wonderfully well that young fellow
looked after all he 'd been through ! Arctic privation
must have made him handsomer. Surprising that
people should leave comforts and luxuries to get into
danger and hardship. Now when one did it for a liv
ing, as he himself did, but this young man was very
rich, he heard, and a famous composer. The bluff,
264 THE METROPOLITANS
voluble man did not notice that Mr. Penrose's face was
quite gray and that he appeared not to hear what was
said to him.
At last the steamer was in, and the crowd's attention,
rightfully belonging to the whole arctic party, was
concentrated on its sole representative. "You will
not," he cried to Penrose, "let me run this gantlet
alone on the wharf ; you '11 come with me. No ? Then
to dinner, of course ; my mother will certainly expect
" Not to-night," said Penrose. Something in his tone
struck Rexf ord, who turned and looked at him. Pen-
rose put his arm once more around his friend's shoul
der. " Good-by, my dear lad. I have cared for you
"Until to-morrow, then," called Rexf ord, running
down the gang-plank. He bowed and smiled plea
santly right and left to the cheering crowd, but was
glad to take refuge from the shouts in a cab, which
presently brought him to his hotel. And his heart beat
high as he sprang up the staircase to meet again the
mother against whom he felt he had cherished some
bitterness. Her sitting-room door was already opened
expectantly. She drew him within, closing it, and fell
upon his shoulder. " My dear, dear mother ! " he cried,
his heart melting at once at her aspect and mourning
" My only son ! " she said, with sobs. " If a mother
might acknowledge injustice might ask pardon"
" No, no," he interrupted.
"Then if suspense can atone I have suffered so
much. But I have a gift of great value of priceless
THE METROPOLITANS 265
worth to make restitution with. It will repay for all."
Even now he winced at this. Could she speak of
atoning materially for the hurt inflicted ? " Let me
kiss you and bless you, my own son, before making
this gift." Indeed, she was all mother now, and it was
with a pang of renunciation indescribable that, after
embracing him, she withdrew herself. She opened a
door and went in. " Katheriue ! " she called. In a
moment she came back, leading the girl with her.
" See, now," she said, " this is full reparation," and left
him. Katherine advanced toward him, while he stood
motionless, transfixed. Tall of figure, robed in some
thing soft and white, her eyes shining, she stood a few
paces away. Even so had he often dreamed in arctic
snows. But this was no vision.
" Welcome back, my own," said her soft voice, " to
life and me ! " Then he held her clasped in his arms,
and their lips met. " Oh ! " she cried 5 " no more j you
almost frighten me."
"You must not rebuke me," he answered masterfully.
" I have waited long, fasting." And he lifted her quite
up in his arms and kissed her hair and cheek again.
" My dear, brave, beautiful darling ! My dainty
sweet ! To have come away up here to meet me ! It
repays for all even for your letting me go." There
was some confused remembrance on this of rumors,
of a strange visit, of a letter delayed ; but there was a
golden future stretching ahead in which would be
ample time for explanations. All that was needed now
was to know that her dear and only love stood again
at her side.
" Indeed, I knew you had forgotten me," smiled his
266 THE METROPOLITANS
mother when he brought Katherine to her. She had
carefully removed all traces of the bitter tears which
came at the thought, "I have lost this one too," and
she could smile as she said, " She has been my daugh
ter already all these weeks. She is a birthday present
to you, my Allan ; it is your anniversary."
" Much has happened," said he, when she left them
again, " since my majority at twenty -five, two years
ago. But now I enter into my kingdom ! " He turned
and clasped once more his fondly yielding, gracious
It was to him that a note came next day.
" You will receive this," it said, " when I am far away
from you; for I have hired a boat to overtake the
steamer already started. No one wishes you both
more happiness than I, but you will not see me again.
The few years spent in New York have satisfied me.
The price was too heavy. I cannot tell where I may
pitch my tent next, being naturally a rover. You may
know by this time that you need not have been parted
so long but for me. Ah well ! as I brought you back,
perhaps your beautiful friend may forget that. It
was poor little Jasmina whose stakes were too high ;
but life hardly treated her quite fairly, poor child
Tell Miss de Mansur I have a talisman which will keep
me safe for a while. Beyond that I cannot say, but
one road or another is much the same. Perhaps, if I
chance upon Jasmina's people, they may remember to
exact vendetta. It is all one. But I have cared for
you, believe me.
THE METROPOLITANS 267
Rexford crumpled this in his hand. " I think I had
counted on him assuredly in my life," he said slowly ;
then went to the window and looked abstractedly far
over the waters of the bay. He saw in thought, a lit
tle white mound at the foot of a distant snow-cliff in
the remote northern waste ; and it was pure fancy that
from the twisted note a scent of sandalwood breathed
in his face.
" I wonder what talisman he carries," Katherine said
softly. But her lover did not answer ; so she went and
laid her head on his shoulder.
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